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Original Research

Self-Efficacy, Physical Activity, and Sedentary Behavior in Adolescent Girls: Testing Mediating Effects of the Perceived School and Home Environment

2014, 11, 1579 – 1586


Background: According to social-cognitive theory (SCT), self-efficacy affects health behavior both directly and indirectly by influencing how individuals perceive their environment. This study examines whether perceptions of home and school environment mediate the association between self-efficacy and physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior in adolescent girls. Methods: Baseline data from the Nutrition and Enjoyable Activity for Teen Girls (NEAT) was used for this study. Grade 8 female students (n = 357) were recruited from 12 secondary schools located in low-income communities in the Hunter Region, New South Wales, Australia. PA was assessed using accelerometers, and sedentary behavior by self-report and accelerometers. Self-reported measures were used for perceived home and school environment and self-efficacy. Multilevel regression models were calculated to determine if the perceived environment mediated the relationship between self-efficacy with both PA and sedentary behavior. Results: The perceptions of the school and home environment did not mediate the relationship between PA self-efficacy and PA behavior or sedentary behavior. Conclusion: The mediated models were not supported for PA or sedentary behavior. However, other results of this paper may be helpful for future theory development and practice. More research is needed to understand behaviors in unique populations such as this.

Keywords: social-cognitive theory, physical activity environment, low-income communities

Authors: Ronald C. Plotnikoff, Klaus Gebel, David R. Lubans

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