Understanding child and parent perceptions of barriers influencing children’s active school travel

Physical activity plays a fundamental role in the health and well-being of children. The journey to and from school offers many children a regular opportunity to be physically active. This study examines how child and parent perceptions of barriers to adopting active school travel modes (e.g., walking, biking) influences children’s travel behaviour. This study uses survey data related to children’s school travel behaviours from two large-scale, community-based projects (Active and Safe Routes to School and Spatial Temporal Environment and Activity Monitoring) undertaken in Western’s HEALab.  The analysis compares parent and child perceptions of barriers and how they influence children’s AST, while controlling for intrapersonal, interpersonal, and physical environment variables. This paper was written by HEALab researchers Katherine Wilson (lead author), Dr. Andrew Clark (project coordinator), and Dr. Jason Gilliland (principal investigator and senior author). Statistical analyses, including chi-square tests and logistic regressions, were run on 1296 paired parent and child surveys. Findings from this study suggest that interventions used to promote AST should focus on safety, as well as perceptions of distance to break through habits of routinely getting driven to school. As well, this study contributes to research examining how local environments can influence children’s behaviours.

Support for trainees on this project was generously provided by the Children’s Health Foundation and Children’s Health Research Institute.

“Understanding child and parent perceptions of barriers influencing children’s active school travel” is published in BMC Public Health.

Read the full article here: https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5874-y

Key Words: children, active school travel, perceptions, barriers, multivariate analysis, environments, walking, cycling

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