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The theory of planned behaviour and physical activity in pregnancy : exploring the moderating effect of antenatal depressive symptomology Dhaliwal, Aneet


Background: Pregnant individuals engage in less physical activity than their non-pregnant counterparts. Though, physical activity is encouraged during pregnancy, benefiting maternal/fetal health. Healthcare providers need better insight into the behaviours and factors that influence pregnant individuals’ ability to meet physical activity guidelines. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the physical activity intention and behaviours of pregnant individuals between 16 and 40 weeks gestation residing in British Columbia through the theory of planned behaviour constructs (i.e., attitude, subjective norm, perceived behavioural control, and intention) while exploring the moderating role of antenatal depressive symptomology between physical activity intention and behaviour. Methods: The study design was non-experimental and cross-sectional, with data collection through an internet-based survey. Participants completed a questionnaire on demographic characteristics and validated measures related to physical activity, theory of planned behaviour constructs, and antenatal depressive symptomology. Descriptive statistics and bivariate Pearson’s correlation were used, with Pearson’s correlation additionally assessing potential control variables. Multiple hierarchical regression models were used to identify predictors of physical activity intention and behaviour, and antenatal depressive symptomology as a moderator between intention and behaviour. Results: Parity was included as a control variable, having a significant correlation with physical activity intention and behaviour. Pregnant individuals were found to have a positive intention, attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioural control for physical activity behaviour. The strongest predictor for physical activity intention was perceived behavioural control, followed by attitude. Individually, parity and subjective norm did not significantly influence physical activity intention. The final model explained 69% of the variance seen in physical activity intention. Pregnant individuals were found to have decreased physical activity behaviours. The strongest predictor for physical activity behaviour was parity, with no other predictors significantly contributing. The final model explained 22% of the variance seen in physical activity behaviour. Conclusion: Pregnant individuals had positive intentions to participate in physical activity behaviour, however, there may have been a potential ‘intention-behaviour gap’. Future research needs to explore other post-intention barriers for pregnant people. Physical activity is essential in keeping mothers and babies healthy, and healthcare providers need to consider strategies to bridge the potential gap.

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