100 Ways of Using Data to Make Lives Better

Assessing the Health Impacts of Adult Participation in Sport in Wales

Published on: 11th July 2017

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Public Health
Case Study 61

Project Lead: Dora Pouliou, Swansea University

Researchers explored the role that accessibility to sports facilities plays on health outcomes.

The Challenge

The “Programme for Government” is the Welsh Government’s plan of action. One of its commitments is to widen access and participation in sports programmes and facilities in order to increase physical activity which in turn improves our health and well-being.

Research has found that individuals participating in sports are more likely to engage in health enhancing behaviours such as non-smoking and healthy diet, and less likely to engage in antisocial and violent behaviours. Previous studies have also highlighted the positive influence that access to sport facilities may have on sport participation.

While a positive association between participation in sport and self-assessed health and life-satisfaction has been reported for England and Scotland, research on the health impacts of sport participation has been limited in Wales. Sport Wales, the national organisation responsible for developing and promoting sport in Wales, has collected data on sport participation and published relevant statistics; however these have not been linked with any health outcomes and/or health behaviours.

The Research

This research project will seek to identify the relationship and pathways between the accessibility of sport facilities, self-reported sports participation and health for adults in Wales and whether accessibility to sports facilities contributes to inequities in health outcomes. This research project has the potential to identify inequalities in access to sports facilities and identify communities that could benefit from an improved supply of sports facilities or population subgroups that could be better targeted with interventions promoting physical activity.

For the first time, accessibility measures will be linked to self-reported survey information about sports participation and health-related behaviours as well as routine health records. This provides a rare opportunity to enhance our understanding of the association between accessibility to sport facilities, sport participation and health.

The Results

Research findings will be documented and this information will feed into decisions by Welsh Government about the focus of future data collection.

The Impact

There is considerable interest among policy makers on the development of interventions aimed at increasing physical activity through increased sport participation particularly in vulnerable population groups. Where possible, impacts on specific population subgroups will be assessed including groups considered relatively deprived. This will enable the Welsh Government and Sport Wales to assess the potential of targeting these subgroups.

Enquiries to Sarah Toomey, Communications Officer, Farr Institute CIPHER,

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