REPOPA & The Bangkok Declaration
In November 2016 Thomas Skovgaard SDU, Denmark presented REPOPA at The 6th International Congress on Physical Activity and Public Health (ISPAH) in Bangkok, Thailand. The event was hosted by several key organizations – among them the World Health Organization and the International Society for Physical Activity and Health.
For the REPOPA team the ambition was to discuss how the project has led to the identification of innovative ways to integrate scientific and expert research knowledge with practice and policy making. A key point was also to highlight how the move to evidence-informed decision making entails a shift from knowledge transfer to knowledge translation. The latter understood as a dynamic process that includes synthesis, exchange and application of knowledge to improve health and well‐being and provide more effective services. For a number of years, it has been stressed that such processes must ensure the combination of best available research evidence and local contextual knowledge by facilitating close interaction between researchers, end users and other relevant stakeholders.
In a nutshell, the oral presentations in Bangkok was an opportunity to underline the point that simply disseminating knowledge to potential users is likely to be of limited effectiveness in developing the actions, strategies, programs and policies we so direly need to truly facilitate all citizens’ equal opportunity and conditions to influence the factors that determine their health and well-being – among these physical activity and exercise.
Overall the REPOPA findings makes it clear that some of the key components to further integrate scientific research, expert know-how & real world policy making are:
- Early and meaningful stakeholder interaction in determining relevant issues and questions - where it really makes a difference to collaborate
- Respect and trust among all partners
- Opportunities for in-person interaction
- Recognition of the costs involved for all partners when working together to build physical activity policies on best available evidence from both practice-to-evidence and evidence-to-practice methods
- Effective strategies for arbitrating between diverse and often conflicting perspectives.
The timing of the REPOPA-presentations couldn´t have been much better. The ISPAH congress included the launch of The Bangkok Declaration on Physical Activity for Global Health and Sustainable Development – a document that in the years to come hopefully will play a key role in the further advancement of physical activity. The continued reinforcement of physical activities many qualities in relation to a broad variety of determinants of health is crucial. The global trend is frustrating: Despite of more and more countries formulating national physical activity plans, population physical activity levels are not improving. Results from the REPOPA project, several to be published in the coming period, are obviously important in strengthening the physical activity agenda and moving towards evidence-informed decision making in relation to health enhancing physical activity.