Development, implementation and evaluation of the ‘BELIEVE’ program for improving physical activity among women: a mixed method action research study

Leila Amiri-Farahani, Soroor Parvizy, Eesa Mohammadi, Mohsen Asadi-Lari, Ziba Taghizadeh, Sally Pezaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
54 Downloads (Pure)


Background: There is insufficient physical activity among women. Yet the implementation of effective, multilevel, and evidence-based interventions may address this. Since the lifestyle of individuals is formed in many different social, physical and cultural contexts, it will be necessary in designing such interventions to involve many stakeholders. Consequently, the present study took a mixed method action research approach in developing, implementing and evaluating a bespoke program to improve physical activity among women. Methods: This study was conducted within the Khoramroudi neighborhood of Tehran between 2013 and 2015 utilizing the four main phases of action research. The Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) process was used to design the study. During the initial phase, participants were organized into three groups; a core support committee, a steering committee, and a study population. Qualitative and quantitative data were also collected during this first phase. During the second phase, interventions were developed and implemented. In the third phase, an evaluation was carried out using both quantitative (Designing a quasi-experimental study) and qualitative methods. During the fourth phase, an exploration of the structure and process of action research was completed with the aim of providing a conceptual model and descriptions of the context. Results: Three strategic interventions were effective in improving physical activity among women: (1) utilization of sports assistants; (2) Local health promotion and the dissemination of an informational, motivational and culturally competent booklet entitled “Educational content for sport assistants" (3) Group-based cognitive behavioral therapy. Quantitative results [Significant difference between the total score of PA before the intervention, and 1 and 3 months after the intervention (P < 0.001)] and the results of qualitative evaluations were shown to improve physical activity among participants. The newly co-created “adjusted MAPP model” was offered within three action cycles. The structure of this was described to capture the impacts of interactions among a variety of stakeholders. Conclusion: The comprehensive identification of problems led to the development of collaborative strategies. Strategies of action research can positively affect physical activity among women. To improve physical activity outcomes more generally, the use of MAPP principles and strategies is suggested to meet the specific needs and strengths of all community members.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder.

Funding Information:
This work is part of the author’s Ph.D. thesis in Tehran University of Medical Sciences. This study was funded and supported by Tehran University of Medical Sciences (Grant no. 93-02-28-26113). This fund was usually allocated to Ph.D. thesis and Z.T received it as supervisor of thesis.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran (Grant no. 92-02-28-23311).


  • Action research
  • Advertising available sport services
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • MAPP process
  • Peer mentors
  • Physical activity
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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