Developing Scales to Assess Parental Instrumental Social Support and Influence on Provision of Social Support for Physical Activity in Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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An important influence on youth physical activity (PA) is the provision of instrumental social support (ISS) by parents and other adults. Limited research exists about factors that influence parental provision of ISS for youth PA. Following a theory-based conceptual model, a measure for assessing ISS for PA was developed from elicitation survey results. The purpose of this paper is to describe elicitation methodology and ISS instrument development.


Parents (N = 37) of children (5–14 years) responded to open-ended questions assessing modal beliefs about their provision of ISS for PA regarding a) positive/negative beliefs, b) normative beliefs, c) self-efficacy (SE), and d) ISS for PA. Data were analyzed qualitatively.


ISS behaviors reported by parents include enroll/sign-up youth for structured PA, paying expenses for participation in structured/unstructured PA, and providing transportation for unstructured/structured PA. Child health and fitness (benefits), and time/scheduling conflicts (barriers) were most frequently reported behavioral beliefs. Family members were most frequently identified as specific referents for normative beliefs. Final instrument scales yielded moderately high internal consistency reliability scores.


When developing scales not previously assessed in a population, eliciting modal beliefs about a behavior is an important formative step in instrument development.

Dominick is with the Dept of Behavioral Health and Nutrition, University of Delaware, Newark, DE. Saunders is with the Dept of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. Kenison is with the Center for Health Services and Policy Research, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.

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