University students' knowledge, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, barriers and ideas related to reducing sedentary behaviour: A qualitative study


High levels of sedentary behaviour are associated with detrimental health outcomes. University students are a subpopulation at high risk of excessive sedentary behaviour. Research examining university students' perceptions related sedentary behaviour is limited. Accordingly, we conducted a qualitative study that sought to extend our understanding of Canadian university students' knowledge and perceptions related to sedentary behaviour, including their understanding of the concept and health risks, self-efficacy, outcome expectations, barriers, and intervention ideas related to reducing sedentary behaviour. Four focus groups were conducted with 19 undergraduate and graduate students (female=13; mean age=24.6 ± 7.10 years) from a large Canadian university. Discussions were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded to identify categories and themes using commonly practiced methods used in qualitative analysis. Findings revealed that some students did not fully understand the concept of sedentary behaviour, but that most were aware of health risks associated with sedentary behaviour. Most students were confident they could reduce their sedentary behaviour, but expressed how it would be unlikely they would actually do so because they believed that: (a) sitting less is not an important priority, (b) health consequences of excessive sitting are distal, (c) increasing standing and light-intensity activity would not provide meaningful health benefits, and (d) class schedules/norms/infrastructure encourage sitting and are not under their control to change. Although more research in this area is needed, the findings from this study may help inform interventions to decrease excessive sedentary behaviour among university students.