C3EN #4

Woman exercising

Activity and Recreation in Communities for Health (ARCH)

Project Number:
Project Period:
09/24/2021 - 06/30/2026



Underresourced communities are affected by structural barriers and detrimental conditions that contribute to disparities in mental and physical health. People living in these communities may also face financial and logistical barriers to engaging in meaningful and rewarding activities in their community, which is linked to risk for depression and cardiometabolic disease in emerging health behavior models. There is also evidence that depression, physical inactivity, and reward-driven overeating exhibit reciprocal causal relationships that promote cardiometabolic disease through multiple pathways, which supports the value of intervening on these co-occurring risk factors simultaneously. Structured interventions that increase engagement in rewarding activities are effective for treating depression, but this approach has not been adapted for broad dissemination in underresourced populations that face challenges accessing the health care system, and have a high burden of cardiometabolic risk factors. This project will refine and test a novel approach for reducing the burden of depression and cardiometabolic disease in underresourced communities. The Activity and Recreation in Communities for Health (ARCH) intervention is designed to promote engagement in rewarding activities through an adaptation of Behavioral Activation Treatment for Depression, and direct provision of resources to engage in rewarding recreational and social activities both independently and through our partnering community-based organizations. ARCH is designed to be delivered in participants’ homes and community venues by a health outreach workforce, which addresses barriers to accessing treatment.

Specific Aims

Aim 1 is to engage community stakeholders in the process of co- designing ARCH to maximize feasibility, acceptability, and uptake. Aim 2 is to conduct an initial evaluation of the refined ARCH intervention among adults from underresourced communities with depression. Changes in depressive symptoms, adiposity, and physical activity over four months will be compared between those randomly assigned to ARCH versus a traditional health outreach comparator. In addition to clinical outcomes, key metrics of program uptake, cost, and feasibility will be quantified, and hypothesized mechanisms underlying treatment effects will be explored (Aim 3). The project also includes sustainability planning activities focused on preserving this program as an enduring resource to our communities. Findings will inform the design of a definitive implementation trial, and determine the potential value of incorporating behavioral activation in other outreach interventions for underserved populations.