UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Parent Support Is Related to Physical Activity among Children and Youth with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from the National Physical Activity Measurement (NPAM) Study James, Maeghan E.; Odorico, Nikoleta; Moore, Sarah A.; Kathleen A. (Kathleen Anne), 1968-; Bassett-Gunter, Rebecca L.; Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Kelly P.


Physical activity (PA) among children and youth with disabilities (CYD) has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Parent PA support and parent PA modelling (i.e., parents engaging in PA themselves) have been shown to be associated with PA in CYD. However, parents’ influence on the PA behaviours of CYD during the pandemic remains unknown. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between parent PA support and parent PA modelling (i.e., parent moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA)) and the PA behaviours of CYD. It was hypothesized that higher levels of parent PA support and parent PA modelling would significantly relate to both child MVPA and child PA at any intensity. An online survey was sent to parents of CYD in November 2020 (i.e., during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada) that assessed the MVPA and total PA (any intensity), parent PA support (e.g., encouraging PA, providing transportation for PA), and parent MVPA. Separate linear regression models assessed the relationships between parent PA support and parent PA modelling with (a) child MVPA and (b) child PA at any intensity. Parent and child age, child gender and disability group, marital status, and household type were controlled for in all analyses. A total of 86 parents (Mage = 43 years, SD = 5.9; 93% mothers) of CYD (Mage = 11 years, SD = 3.3; 20% girls; 77% with a developmental disability) completed the survey. Parent PA support was significantly associated with child MVPA (β = 0.30, CI = 0.067–0.438, p = 0.008) but not child PA at any intensity. No significant relationship was shown between parent PA modelling and either child MVPA or child PA at any intensity. Findings suggest that parent PA support, but not parent PA modelling, was associated with PA in CYD, at least during the acute period of the pandemic. Greater efforts must be directed towards developing effective parent PA support interventions to reduce the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on PA in CYD.

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