Engagement of parkrun event teams in linking with GP practices to support patient and staff participation in local 5km events
Increasing physical activity is a priority, both in the treatment of and prevention of disease. In 2018, a joint collaboration was launched between parkrun and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), encouraging the linking of GP practices with their local 5km parkrun event(s). parkrun has the advantage that it is already firmly established across the UK, enabling participants to automatically become part of a supportive community. Over 1300 GP practices in the UK are now registered with the scheme, but little is known about the engagement of parkrun event teams. This study aims to investigate the involvement of parkrun event teams in the parkrun practice initiative. In doing so, we explore event teams’ motivations for linking with GP practices, the processes involved, associated challenges and suggestions for improvements. We also explore the level of awareness and perceptions of those event teams who have not yet linked with GP practices as part of the initiative.
An online survey (delivered using Qualitrics) was sent via email from parkrun Head Office to the Event Director at all UK parkrun teams (n=634) in May 2019, with a request for either themselves or one member of the core volunteer team to complete it. Questions related to event details, how local practices have linked with the event, activities being carried out, challenges experienced and suggestions for improvement. It also explored awareness and perceptions among event teams not yet linked. Descriptive statistics were carried out for all sections of the survey. Free text comments were categorised and interpreted thematically.
A total of 322/634 (50.8%) parkrun event teams completed the survey. Event teams were supportive of the initiative, with a large proportion (225/322; 69.9%) linked with at least one practice. Links were usually initiated by practices (187/225; 83.1%). Only a small proportion reported challenges (35/219; 16%), including difficulty engaging with/maintaining contact with practices, and lack of time due to being volunteers. Event teams showed a willingness to engage in activities to support practices, such as mentioning the initiative in event communications and enabling practices to have an information stand at their event. The principal reason cited by those not yet linked was that they had not yet been approached by a practice (67/97; 69%).
Event teams are willing to support practices and provide a welcoming environment for the initiative to grow and develop; though mutual engagement from both sides is required. Better communication about which practices are linked with an event team and how event teams can keep in contact may help in the continued relationship between an event and a practice.