Multisite formative assessment for the Pathways study to prevent obesity in American Indian schoolchildren.

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We describe the formative assessment process, using an approach based on social learning theory, for the development of a school-based obesity-prevention intervention into which cultural perspectives are integrated. The feasibility phase of the Pathways study was conducted in multiple settings in 6 American Indian nations. The Pathways formative assessment collected both qualitative and quantitative data. The qualitative data identified key social and environmental issues and enabled local people to express their own needs and views. The quantitative, structured data permitted comparison across sites. Both types of data were integrated by using a conceptual and procedural model. The formative assessment results were used to identify and rank the behavioral risk factors that were to become the focus of the Pathways intervention and to provide guidance on developing common intervention strategies that would be culturally appropriate and acceptable to all sites.