UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Individual and Environmental Factors Associated with Participation in Physical Activity as Adolescents Transition to Secondary School: A Qualitative Inquiry McGaughey, Tomoko; Vlaar, Janae; Naylor, Patti-Jean; Hanning, Rhona M.; Le Mare, Lucy; Mâsse, Louise C.


The transition from elementary to secondary school is an emotionally and socially complex time when adverse behaviors appear, such as decreased levels of physical activity (PA). Behavioral and environmental factors that influence PA during this time are poorly understood. Therefore, we aimed to identify factors that influence PA as adolescents transition to secondary school. Qualitative interviews were conducted with a sample of 27 ethnically diverse child–parent dyads within the public-school system in British Columbia, Canada (50% boys, 68% mothers, 25% White). The interviews probed for environmental and behavioral factors in school, family, and social contexts that potentially initiated changes in PA, specifically related to the adolescents’ transitions. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analyses identified factors at the individual, social, familial, and school levels that may trigger adolescents to change their participation in PA as they transition from elementary to secondary school. Twenty-two factors emerged from the qualitative analysis including school factors (8), household factors (3), social factors (4), and intrapersonal factors (7). These findings contribute to a better understanding of adolescents’ PA behaviors and highlight the influence of changing environments as they transition from elementary school to secondary school.

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