Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation


Health Promotion, Education and Behavior

First Advisor

Ruth Saunders


Background: The transition from childhood to adolescence marks a steady decline in physical activity (PA) for males and females. To be active, many youth rely on parents for specific instrumental social support (ISS) such as providing transportation and paying activity fees. Parental PA literacy (comprehension of PA information and guidelines) may also be associated with parents' support of children's PA. To date no studies have assessed how psychosocial variables or PA literacy are associated with social support as a behavioral outcome.

Methods: Ninety-one foster parents completed surveys to assess perceptions related to foster child PA (PA level, enjoyment, and coordination), five psychosocial variables (positive and negative behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs, perceived behavioral control, and self-efficacy) to provide ISS for PA, and foster parent and child demographics. A PA literacy assessment was also administered to determine overall and specific PA comprehension. Associations between these variables and ISS were determined using multiple regression analysis.

Results: More supportive normative beliefs about providing ISS, higher self-efficacy for providing ISS, and duration of foster child residence (> 3 years) with foster parents were significantly associated with more foster parent-reported provision of ISS. Race, perceived behavioral control, and not engaging in a sport activity were associated with specific PA literacy about PA guidelines. Race and education were associated with overall PA literacy.

Conclusions: Perceived social expectations to provide ISS from others and confidence in ability to provide ISS were associated with provision of ISS for PA in this sample. PA resources should be written in plain language and help improve foster parent's perceived control to provide tangible support for children's PA.