Woods, Catherine B.
Exercise behaviour change in a young adult population: a qualitative and quantitative analysis.
PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.
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Participation in regular physical activity among young adults (16-24 years) is suboptimal. Research has attempted to understand what determines exercise behaviour and how interventions can assist individuals in adopting and adhering to exercise. This thesis consists of a literature review, and three separate studies. In the literature review, inactivity is defined, and the current physical activity patterns of industrialised society are discussed. Models of behaviour change that enhance our understanding of the adoption and adherence process in physical activity are examined. In particular, the transtheoretical model of behaviour change [TTM] has been selected for further study. This model is unique to the study of exercise behaviour because it provides researchers with an opportunity to identify and work with an inactive population, and permits the tailoring of physical activity interventions to make them more suitable for sedentary individuals. Initially, the TTM and its core constructs are explained, followed by a critique of the model. A review of empirical research in physical activity that has been based on the TTM is included. Over fifty key studies were identified; the limitations and strengths of these studies are explored. Finally, the discussions will summarise what has been learned to date about the application of the TTM to the understanding of behaviour modification in physical activity.
In study one, constructs from the transtheoretical model of behaviour change were chosen to help understand the process of exercise behaviour change of a student population. A total of 2943 respondents completed a baseline questionnaire and 1058 completed a follow-up 7 months later. A 5-item stage of change and a 40-item process of change questionnaire was used. There were significant differences in physical activity patterns from baseline to follow-up. There were also significant differences in process use across the stages. The process data was factor analysed to refine it further. A three-factor model revealed different motivational clusters underlying actual stage of behaviour change. Recommendations for intervention design suggest that adopting a positive behaviour should be treated differently to ceasing a negative behaviour.
In study two, a pre-post randomised control design was used to investigate the effectiveness of a self-instructional intervention for helping a sedentary undergraduate population to become more active. The intervention was based on the transtheoretical model of behaviour change. Significantly more of the experimental group in comparison to the control group improved their stage of change from baseline. Self-efficacy and not decisional balance was found to be useful predictor of stage improvement. Discriminant analyses revealed that discrimination between stage improvement versus non-improvement was possible using the processes of change data. For stage improvers, the processes self-reevaluation and self-liberation were most frequently used, while social liberation was used significantly more by the experimental than the control group.
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