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Which Socio-Ecological Factors Associate with a Switch to or Maintenance of Active and Passive Transport during the Transition from Primary to Secondary School?

27 May 2016

by Griet Vanwolleghem, Delfien Van Dyck, Femke De Meester, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Greet Cardon, Freja Gheysen

Objectives

The aim was to investigate which individual, psychosocial and physical neighborhood environmental factors associate with children’s switch to or maintenance of active/passive transport to school and to leisure time destinations during the transition from primary to secondary school.

Methods

Children (n = 313) filled out a questionnaire in the last year of primary school and 2 years later to assess socio-demographic characteristics and self-reported transport. One of their parents completed a questionnaire to assess parental perceptions of psychosocial and physical neighborhood environmental factors.

Results

The increase of the home-school distance was significantly associated with children’s switch to or maintenance of passive transport to school compared to a switch to (OR = 0.81; p = 0.03) and maintenance (OR = 0.87; p = 0.03) of active transport to school. Low SES was associated with children’s switch to active transport to school compared to maintenance of active transport (OR = 3.67; p = 0.07). For transport to leisure time destinations, other factors such as parental perceived neighborhood safety from traffic and crime (OR = 2.78; p = 0.004), a positive social norm (OR = 1.49; p = 0.08), positive attitudes (OR = 1.39; p = 0.08) (i.e. more benefits, less barriers) towards their children’s physical activity and poor walking/cycling facilities in the neighborhood (OR = 0.70; p = 0.06) were associated with children’s maintenance of active transport to leisure time destinations compared to a switch to or maintenance of passive transport.

Conclusions

This longitudinal study can give directions for interventions promoting children’s active transport during the transition to secondary school. It is necessary to promote different possibilities at primary school for children to use active transport when going to secondary school. Walking/cycling a part of the home-school trip can be a possible solution for children who will be living at non-feasible distances from secondary school. Providing safe neighborhoods, combined with programs for parents stimulating a positive social norm and positive attitudes towards physical activity during primary school, can be effective.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in PLOS ONE