Physical activity support behaviours among parents of children with intellectual disabilities: Evaluating an online messaging intervention


Physical activity (PA) engagement is positively associated with children's wellbeing. However, children with intellectual disabilities (CWID) rarely meet recommended PA guidelines. Interventions aimed at increasing child PA should focus on motivating parental support behaviours. One approach to increase parental support for PA involves using targeted messages. When developing customized PA promotion messages for parents of CWID, the extended parallel process model (EPPM) may be employed to incorporate framed PA messages and risk information. This study: 1) applied the EPPM to explore the effectiveness of an online messaging intervention for motivating PA support behaviours among parents of CWID, and 2) evaluated parents' responses to different messaging strategies. A five (messaging condition) x four (time) experimental design was employed. Canadian parents of CWID (N=68) were recruited through partnerships with community-based organizations. Participants were randomly assigned to receive a newsletter containing varying combinations of framed PA messages and risk information. Online questionnaires measured parental support for PA and EPPM constructs before and after message exposure. At baseline, participants reported engaging in PA support behaviours two to three times per week, and engaging in behavioural regulation strategies for PA support behaviours once per week. There were no significant effects for perceived threat (p=.36), task self-efficacy (p=.81), response efficacy (p=.30), planning efficacy (p=.83), or intention (p=.14) within or between messaging conditions from baseline to follow-up. The theory-based evidence generated from this work will inform the development of optimally effective messages for motivating PA support behaviours among parents of CWID.

Acknowledgments: This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Special Olympics Ontario, and the LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research