Barriers, strategies, and information seeking: Parents' support roles and perspectives of supporting children's physical activity


Parents are often considered "gate-keepers" and critical facilitators of children's physical activity (PA) participation. The Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) suggests that the proximal determinant of behaviour is the intention to engage in the behaviour (Arjan, 1991). Parents' perceived behavioural control (PBC) is a key factor in determining the amount of support they provide for their children's PA (Rhodes et al., 2013) However, there is a paucity of research regarding a) specific barriers that limit parents' PBC and b) possible strategies to overcome such barriers. The purpose of this study was threefold; a) enhance the current understanding of parental support in relation to children's PA, b) identify specific barriers to parental support and possible intervention strategies, and c) identify parents' preferred sources of communication for information regarding children's PA. An adapted Theory of Planned Behaviour (Rhodes et al., 2013) and the Comprehensive Model of Information Seeking (CMIS; Johnson et al., 1995) provided frameworks to explore the objectives. Qualitative methodologies (i.e., focus groups) were employed to examine parents' experiences and needs for supporting their children's PA. Participants (n=21) included parents of at least one child (5 to 11 years). Preliminary findings suggest that cost, time, safety, and parent motivation are key barriers impacting PBC. Strategies included parental/family involvement and "community parenting" as potentially effective interventions. Responses were varied regarding preferred sources of information (e.g., other parents, doctor, media). This research provided some initial insights on barriers and strategies for parental support for PA which could be used to inform future TPB-based interventions.