Factors influencing children’s engagement in active travel

Karina Elise Pont (2011). Factors influencing children’s engagement in active travel PhD Thesis, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland.

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Author Karina Elise Pont
Thesis Title Factors influencing children’s engagement in active travel
School, Centre or Institute School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2011
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Prof Jenny Ziviani
Dr David Wadley
Dr Rebecca Abbott
Total pages 229
Total colour pages 21
Total black and white pages 208
Language eng
Subjects 11 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary Adequate physical activity is an essential factor in children’s healthy development and contributes to reducing their risk of chronic disease (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996, World Health Organization (WHO), 2008). There is, however, widespread concern that children’s physical activity levels are decreasing and becoming insufficient for the maintenance of health (Dollman, Norton & Norton, 2005, Sleap & Warburton 1996). For this reason, researchers have argued for sustainable approaches to ensuring children achieve adequate levels of physical activity by embedding active travel (AT) into everyday tasks such as travelling to school (Duncan, Duncan & Schofield, 2008; Racioppi, Dora, Krech, & Von Ehrenstein, 2002). While examination of factors influencing children’s engagement in AT has been approached from a number of perspectives, findings to date have been inconclusive. This thesis sought to more fully understand determinants of children’s AT in a systematic manner, and identify factors influencing decision-making regarding children’s travel to/from school. The research in this area was examined through two literature reviews. A systematic review identified correlates of AT and highlighted nuances in the language used in self-reported data, along with a lack of objective measurement methods. A lack of consistent theoretical underpinning was also evident in the literature. Therefore, a further review of theories used and proposed in the AT literature, as well as the health promotion and occupational therapy fields was undertaken. As a result, the Model of Children’s Active Travel (M-CAT) was developed in response to the need for a simple, coherent and comprehensive approach to examining factors which influence decision-making relating to children’s AT. The M-CAT incorporates the observable environment, parent perceptions and decisions regarding their child’s AT, as well as the child’s own perceptions and decisions about AT within his/her family contexts across time. The model highlights the complex and dynamic nature of factors impacting the decision-making process of parents and children in relation to children’s AT. The literature reviews and model development were followed by a study that aimed to determine factors that influence children’s engagement in AT to and from school. Two research questions were addressed. First, do children living in areas of high objective physical environmental supportiveness for AT walk to and from school more than those living in areas of low objective physical environmental supportiveness? Second, which environmental, child and family factors are most important in determining children’s engagement in AT? To address these questions, the M-CAT was employed to inform the development of a cross-sectional parent questionnaire which was administered through a door-to-door survey of families in two comparison sites systematically selected on the basis of urban form correlates of AT. Overall, 42 % of all children surveyed had used AT to/from school at least once in the past survey week. The study revealed that significantly more children living in relatively supportive environments used AT on the school journey (χ2 = 11.68, p ≤ 0.01). Results of a hierarchical logistic regression found that increasing distance to school and parents’ concerns about traffic safety was associated with significantly lower rates of AT (p < 0.05), whereas increasing presence of footpaths, and children’s involvement with the decision-making process were associated with significantly higher rates of AT (p < 0.05). This thesis has systematically addressed a number of shortcomings in the literature -identifying correlates of AT, theoretical underpinnings of AT, and objective selection of sites based on urban form in a multi-layered examination of factors influencing children’s AT. This research substantially contributes to the conceptualisation and understanding of factors influencing children’s AT to and from school. It provides, for the first time, data about the extent to which parents’ perceptions of environmental attributes and child and family characteristics influence associations between relatively high or low environmental supportiveness for AT and children’s AT to or from school. Importantly, it highlights the involvement of the child in the decision-making process. Occupational therapists, policy-makers, city planners, researchers, and those interested in the health and well-being of children can use the M-CAT to examine variables influencing AT in a systematic manner. This has been exemplified in the main study, which used the model to organise variables and guide the steps in the hierarchical logistic regression. Using the components of the M-CAT, interventions to increase the supportiveness of environments, and parents’ perceptions about the environment and their children’s ability to engage in safe AT travel can be more effectively targeted.
Keyword Active travel
Physical acitivity
Additional Notes Colour pages (page of pdf document (not number at bottom of page): 71, 80, 86, 91-91, 94-102, 136-146.

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Created: Mon, 14 Nov 2011, 10:33:12 EST by Ms Karina Pont on behalf of Library - Information Access Service