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Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation (EPAO)

The Environment and Policy Assessment and Observation, or EPAO, is a comprehensive measure of nutrition, physical activity, and sedentary practices, policies, and environments in early care and education (ECE) settings. The components measured include:

The EPAO was developed in 2007 as part of our NAPSACC program. Since then, researchers and public health practitioners around the globe have used the EPAO and found it to be a useful measure.

Available Versions of the EPAO

  • EPAO-2017: Data is collected using a combination of a day-long observation and a review of program documents. This version has been the most commonly used to date. It requires data collectors undergo special training and certification.
  • EPAO-2017: EPAO-SR-2017: Data is collected using a combination of surveys with the program director and classroom teachers. This version was modeled after the original EPAO, and it can be a useful option for projects where in-person observations are difficult or too costly to complete.

Additionally, we have expanded the EPAO observation tool for use in family child care homes (EPAO-FCCH). Currently, the EPAO-FCCH tool is only available in the observational format upon request.

EPAO Resources
We have developed several resources to assist with training and certification, data collection, and data management.

EPAO-2017 documents

  • EPAO-2017 Instruments
  • Data entry spreadsheet
  • Data dictionary and labels
  • Scoring code (SAS 9.4 programs)
  • User manual
  • Data collector trainings
    • Part 1: Introduction to the EPAO and child care
    • Part 2: Chronology of classroom activities
    • Part 3: General observation items and document review
    • Part 4: Data collection protocols and EPAO resources
  • Data collector certification tools
    • Certification video day 1
    • Certification video day 2
    • Gold standard video coding and data entry spreadsheet
    • Scoring code (SAS 9.4 programs)

EPAO-SR-2017 documents

  • EPAO-SR-2017 Surveys (Director General Survey, Staff General Survey, Staff Daily Survey)
  • Data entry spreadsheet
  • Data dictionary and labels
  • Scoring code (SAS 9.4 programs)
  • User manual



Related Publications

  • Ward DS, Mazzucca S, McWilliams C, Hales D. Use of the Environment and Policy Evaluation and Observation as a Self-Report Instrument (EPAO-SR) to measure nutrition and physical activity environments in child care settings: validity and reliability evidence. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2015; 12: 124.
  • Ward DS, Hales D, Haverly K, Marks J, Benjamin S, Ball S, et al. An instrument to assess the obesogenic environment of child care centers. Am J Health Behav 2008; 32(4): 380-6.

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