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Partnering to Create a More Livable City: The Livable St Louis Network

Harris, Jenine K. PhD; Roche, Jason MPH; Estlund, Amy K. MPH; Mense, Cindy MS, RD; Baker, Elizabeth A. PhD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: July/August 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 4 - p 384–391
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31829bfc3a
Original Articles

Context: Physical inactivity is a major public health problem. While individual (eg, attitudes, values, beliefs) and social (eg, social support) factors play a role, access to an activity-safe local environment can have a significant influence. Environments that include accessible opportunities for physical activity, a component of livability, require cooperation from many sectors including nonprofit, government, educational, and for profit.

Objective/Design/Setting: This study used a mixed-methods network mapping approach to evaluate a multisector network focused on increasing the livability of St Louis, Missouri.

Participants: Eighteen network members participated in in-depth interviews about their livability partners.

Outcome Measures/Results: The participants identified 86 unique partners in the region, with a majority representing nonprofit and government organizations and fewer from the education and for-profit sectors. Participants trusted 88% of their partners and felt that 83% of partners shared their mission and vision. Trust and shared mission and vision varied across organization types. Specifically, 89% of nonprofit partners were thought to share a mission/vision and 87% were trusted. Participants felt that 87% of government partners shared their mission/vision and 91% were trusted. Participants shared mission/vision with 75% and trusted 75% of educational partners. Finally, 44% of for-profit partners were thought to share mission/vision and 100% were trusted. For-profit partners also had more positive influence than others, while government partners had the highest average negative influence. Finally, while most relationships were mutual, relationships with for-profit partners were mostly one-directional, with for-profit partners sending resources to other network members.

Conclusion: Livability efforts in St Louis might benefit from recruiting additional for-profit partners that provide the network with new perspectives and needed resources, and from cultivating positive partnerships with government organizations that can assist with local policy development and enforcement.

This article describes answers and insights from network analysis of laws and policies that can complement traditional legal analysis in useful ways for policy makers and emergency public health planners.

George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St Louis (Dr Harris and Mr Roche); Prevention Research Center, College for Public Health & Social Justice, Saint Louis University (Ms Estlund); Trailnet (Ms Mense); and College for Public Health & Social Justice, Department of Behavioral Science & Health Education, and Prevention Research Center, Saint Louis University (Dr Baker), St Louis, Missouri.

Correspondence: Elizabeth A. Baker, PhD, MPH, Saint Louis University College for Public Health & Social Justice, 3545 Lafayette Ave, St Louis, MO 63104 (

Funding for this project was provided through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Project Number 1R18DP001542-01 (E. A. Baker, PI).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.