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Moderating effect of the neighbourhood physical activity environment on the relation between psychosocial factors and physical activity in children: a longitudinal study
  1. Natalie Colabianchi1,
  2. Morgan N Clennin2,
  3. Marsha Dowda2,
  4. Kerry L McIver2,
  5. Rod K Dishman3,
  6. Dwayne E Porter2,
  7. Russell R Pate2
  1. 1 Applied Exercise Science, School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  2. 2 Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3 Department of Kinesiology, College of Education, University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Natalie Colabianchi, School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-2013, Michigan, USA; colabian{at}


Background Few studies have examined the moderating role of neighbourhood environments on the relation between psychosocial factors and physical activity, and results of these studies are mixed. This study examined this relationship in 636 fifth to seventh graders from South Carolina, USA.

Methods From 2010 to 2013, children and their parent/guardian completed annual self-reported surveys assessing psychosocial factors, and children wore accelerometers for 1 week each year. Neighbourhood environments were classified as supportive or non-supportive for physical activity (PA) based on in-person audits of facilities near children’s homes and windshield surveys of children’s streets. Growth curve analyses were completed to assess the moderating effect of the neighbourhood physical activity environment (NPAE) on the relation between psychosocial factors and total physical activity (TPA) over time.

Results Significant interactions on TPA were found for (1) time, NPAE and parent-reported parent support for PA; (2) time, NPAE and child-reported equipment in the home; (3) child-reported parental support for PA and time; (4) child-reported parental support for PA and NPAE; (5) PA self-schema and time and (6) child-reported parental encouragement and time. Parental support and a supportive NPAE were important for TPA, especially as children transitioned to middle school, whereas home equipment and a supportive NPAE were important for fifth graders’ TPA.

Conclusion Consistent with the socioecological model, PA behaviour was dependent on interacting effects across levels of influence. Generally, both a supportive NPAE and positive psychosocial factors were needed to support TPA. Factors influencing PA across multiple levels should be addressed in PA interventions.

  • neighborhood
  • place
  • environmental health
  • physical activity
  • child health
  • psychosocial factors

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  • Contributors NC, MD, RKD, DEP and RRP contributed to the study conception. NC and MNC made substantial contributions to the drafting the manuscript. NC, MNC and MD made substantial contributions to data analysis. KLM and RRP made substantial contributions to acquisition of the data. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the data, critically revised drafts of the work for intellectual content, read and approved the final manuscript to be published and agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work.

  • Funding All phases of this study were supported by a grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, NIH (R01HL091002; Russell R. Pate, Principal Investigator). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication. Not required.

  • Ethics approval All protocols were approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of South Carolina.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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