• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • PRC Special Interest Project 19-94 (1995-1998)
  • Supplement to U48/CCU409664 (1998-2004)
  • Supplement to 5-U46-DP-000051 (2008-2013)


Increasing physical activity is an important goal in overcoming the obesity and diabetes epidemics in the US and abroad. One strategy to address this goal is to increase the number and skills of researchers and practitioners who are working to address this issue. The USC PRC worked with the CDC from 1995-2013 to develop and conduct high quality physical activity training courses for public health professionals, both researchers and practitioners. The long-term goal of the courses was to improve the public's health by increasing the number of public health researchers and practitioners who have expertise in the relationship between physical activity and health in populations.

The 8-day Postgraduate Course on Research Directions and Strategies served post-doctoral personnel and was designed to develop research competencies related to physical activity and public health.  Topics included grantsmanship skills; research funding opportunities; measurement of physical activity; design of epidemiologic studies; dose-response issues; individual, community, and policy interventions; critical research needs on physical activity in women, minorities, youth, and the elderly; and numerous special topics.  Instructional techniques included lectures, small group discussions, individual meetings with faculty, and individual grant writing projects. Faculty for the course consists of a panel of leading researchers in physical activity.

The 6-day Practitioner's Course on Community Interventions was for practitioners who were involved or interested in community-based initiatives to promote physical activity.  Topics included public health models for physical activity promotion, epidemiology/needs assessment, "best practice" intervention strategies, policy and environmental supports for physical activity, program evaluation, partnership development, and current research on physical activity promotion.  One-on-one and small group interaction with leading experts was emphasized. The faculty for this course was composed of nationally known public health practitioners and researchers. This course received the CDC Prevention Research Center Award for Excellence in Training and Technical Assistance in 2004.

The courses were held in September of each year.  Approximately twenty-five fellows were accepted for each course on a competitive basis.  Criteria for acceptance include professional credentials, experience, and potential to enhance public health research and practice.  For more information, go to


Brown DR, Pate RR, Pratt M, Wheeler F, Buchner D, Ainsworth B, Macera C.  Physical activity and public health: training courses for researchers and practitioners. Public Health Rep 2001;116:197-202.

Franks AL, Brownson RC, Bryant C, Brown KM, Hooker SP, Pluto DM, Shepard DM, Pate RR, Baker EA, Gillespie KN, Leet TL, O'Neall MA, & Simoes EJ (2005). Prevention research centers: contributions to updating the public health workforce through training. Preventing Chronic Disease, 2(2). Available from: URL:

Evenson, K.R., Dorn, J.M., Camplain, R., Pate, R.R., Brown, D.R., 2014. Evaluation of the Physical Activity and Public Health Course for Researchers. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Epub Oct 1.

A special edition of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health (2011, Volume 8,Suppl 2) features 16 original research papers written by alumni of the PAPH Courses. The manuscripts highlight aspects of physical activity and public health including assessment, surveillance, community interventions such as those promoting behavior, policy or environmental changes, evaluation, research-to-practice, physical activity and health outcomes, etc.

The following papers in this issue were authored by USC faculty/students:

Beets, M.W, Morgan, C.F., Banda, J.A., Bornstein, D., Byun, Mitchell, J., Munselle, L., Rooney, L. J., Beighle, A., Erwin, H. Convergent validity of pedometer and accelerometer estimates of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity of youth. Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2011;S295-S305

Kaczynski, A.T., Wilhelm Stanis, S.A., Hastmann, T.J., Besenyi, G.M. Variations in observed park physical activity intensity level by gender, race, and age: Individual and joint effects.  Journal of Physical Activity and Health. 2011;S151-S160