Physical Activity Levels Among Participants in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Diabetes Initiative

  1. Pamela A. Williams-Piehota, PhD,
  2. Lauren A. McCormack, PhD, MSPH,
  3. Carla M. Bann, PhD,
  4. Mary O'Toole, PhD,
  5. Joseph Burton, MS,
  6. Shawn Karns, BA,
  7. Linda Lux, MPA and
  8. Douglas Kamerow, MD
  1. Address correspondence to Lauren A. McCormack, PhD, MSPH, Director, Health Communication Program, RTI International, 3040 Cornwallis Rd., P.O. Box 12194, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709.


Objective. The purposes of this study were to describe physical activity habits of individuals with type 2 diabetes participating in a self-management initiative conducted in real-world settings that was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF); to assess changes in physical activity over time; and to identify factors associated with physical activity levels.

Research design and methods. Clinical and community-based programs participating in the RWJF-funded Diabetes Initiative implemented comprehensive models for self-management, including supports to increase physical activity. A cohort of 622 largely lower-income and ethnic minority program participants (72% female, 85% overweight or obese) completed telephone surveys assessing self-reported physical activity levels at two times that were about 8 months apart.

Results. Approximately 70% of participants who reported being inactive at Time 1 reported at least some physical activity at Time 2. Approximately 29% of participants who reported insufficient activity at Time 1 increased their activity enough to meet current public health guidelines at Time 2, whereas 28% of those who were sufficiently active no longer met the guidelines. Sufficient physical activity was associated with greater intervention intensity; being male, younger, and speaking English; and having greater self-efficacy, a lower BMI, and a health care provider who assisted in finding physical activity resources.

Conclusions. Personal, behavioral, and program factors were related to physical activity levels among participants in these comprehensive self-management programs.


  • Pamela A. Williams-Piehota, PhD, is a research psychologist; Lauren A. McCormack, PhD, MSPH, is director of the Health Communication Program; Carla M. Bann, PhD, is director of Program Evaluation & Outcome Measurement; Joseph Burton, MS, Shawn Karns, BA, and Linda Lux, MPA, are health policy researchers; and Douglas Kamerow, MD, is chief scientist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C. Mary O'Toole, PhD, is deputy director of the National Program Office of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Diabetes Initiative in the Washington University School of Medicine Division of Health Behavior Research in St. Louis, Mo.

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