Formative research in school and community-based health programs and studies: "State of the art" and the TAAG approach

Joel Gittelsohn, Allan Steckler, Carolyn C. Johnson, Charlotte Pratt, Mira Grieser, Julie Pickrel, Elaine J. Stone, Terry Conway, Derek Coombs, Lisa K. Staten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

105 Scopus citations


Formative research uses qualitative and quantitative methods to provide information for researchers to plan intervention programs. Gaps in the formative research literature include how to define goals, implementation plans, and research questions; select methods; analyze data; and develop interventions. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute funded the Trial of Activity for Adolescent Girls (TAAG), a randomized, multicenter field trial, to reduce the decline in physical activity in adolescent girls. The goals of the TAAG formative research are to (a) describe study communities and schools, (b) help design the trial's interventions, (c) develop effective recruitment and retention strategies, and (d) design evaluation instruments. To meet these goals, a variety of methods, including telephone interviews, surveys and checklists, semistructured interviews, and focus group discussions, are employed. The purpose, method of development, and analyses are explained for each method.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)25-39
Number of pages15
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006


  • Formative research
  • Girls
  • Intervention
  • Physical activity
  • Qualitative

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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