This project is a synthesis of qualitative research relating to active travel which aims to develop a new social science approach to population strategies for promoting active living.
We aim to identify a transferable theory of practice change by exploring:
How different is ‘active travel’ as a social practice in different contexts and population groups?
What are potential conditions for replacing or recrafting practices?
How can we develop the methods and techniques to link social practices, and uncover networks or patterns?
The project is funded by the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Wellcome Trust: Springboard – Health of the Public 2040 under grant number HOP001\1051.
Innovative approaches are required to better address physical inactivity. To do this there is a need to move beyond individual approaches to behaviour change and develop more appropriate insights for the complex challenge of increasing population levels of physical activity. Recent research which has taken a population approach has, for instance, drawn on social practice theory. This theoretical approach describes the recursive and relational character of active living and related social practices. However, to date these investigations have been limited to small-scale qualitative research studies. To move beyond individual contexts and population groups and uncover conditions for ‘practice change’ across similar datasets, we will explore a novel approach to qualitative inquiry.
We will interrogate the utility of approaches predominantly used in evidence synthesis for the analysis of an unusually large qualitative datasets. This includes innovative machine learning and text mining as well as the more traditional method of meta-ethnography. Five pooled qualitative datasets, that have explored experiences of ‘travel’ across the UK including Belfast, Glasgow, Cardiff, Cambridge and London, will be used.