Social Support among Mothers Enrolled in a Physical Activity Intervention
PURPOSE: Previous studies have shown that mothers does not participate in recommended amounts of physical activity. Research has identified many factors associated with physical activity among mothers and social support has been a factor that has consistently been highlighted. The purpose of the present study is to: determine if social support changes across a physical activity intervention, assess the relationships between social support and physical activity (step counts and activity minutes), body mass index (BMI), depression, and satisfaction with life, and examine the relationship between social support and intervention adherence among mothers enrolled in a physical activity intervention. METHODS: The study sample consisted of 70 mothers aged 18-64 years. Participants were randomized into a standard or intervention group. At baseline, demographic information, social support (total, tangible, affectionate, emotional, and positive), physical activity (pedometer-measured average daily step count and average daily activity minutes), BMI, depression, and satisfaction with life were assessed. Data were collected following a 6-week intervention (post-intervention) and after a 3-month no intervention period (follow-up). The intervention consisted of participants meeting 3 times a week for 6 weeks. Each meeting included a short (approximately 10 minutes) health education lesson followed by a group walk that increased in duration each week. Participants were placed in one of two groups: standard or intervention. Both groups received the same information and the same walking protocol; however, the standard group was informed the goal was to increase their individual level of physical activity while the intervention group was informed the goal was to increase the group's level of physical activity and received supplemental messages about collective efficacy. RESULTS: There were no statistically significant changes in social support across the intervention and follow-up for the standard or intervention groups. A repeated measures ANOVA revealed no significant main effect of time [F(2,130) = 1.223, p = 0.298] or time by group interaction [F(2,130) = 0.963, p = 0.385] for total social support change across the intervention and follow-up periods. Social support subscales showed similar results. There was a statistically significant association between emotional social support at baseline with average daily step count (r = 0.29, p = 0.03) and average daily activity minutes (r = 0.29. p = 0.03) at baseline. At baseline, satisfaction with life was significantly associated with social support (total and all subscales, r-values ranging from r = 0.32 - 0.47, p-values ranging from p = 0.00 - 0.03). BMI and depression were not significantly associated with social support at baseline. Relationships between social support and depression, BMI, and satisfaction with life were similar at post-intervention. Completers and non-completers of the intervention were compared on baseline social support levels using an independent samples t-test to examine the association between baseline social support and adherence to the intervention. Tangible, emotional, and total social support were all significantly higher at baseline for mothers who completed the intervention compared to mothers who did not provide post-intervention data (t = 1.141 p = 0.009, t = 1.597 p = 0.023, t = 1.388 p = 0.008, respectively). Spearman correlations further revealed that among completers, baseline levels of tangible social support ([rho] = 0.27, p = 0.049), positive social support ([rho]961; = 0.315, p = 0.023), and total social support ([rho] = 0.314, p = 0.02) were associated with percent of sessions attended during the intervention. DISCUSSION: Mothers in the present study had high levels of social support that did not change during a physical activity intervention. Social support was moderately and positively associated with satisfaction with life but not associated with physical activity, BMI, or depression. Finally, social support at baseline was associated with adherence to the physical activity intervention. Future studies might consider recruiting mothers with low levels of social support and assessing social support before an intervention to identify individuals who might have a higher risk of dropout during a physical activity intervention. Given the lack of relationships found between general social support and physical activity, the current study calls for a new social support scale to be created that has subscales for measuring the types of social support that are specific to engaging in physical activity. Future interventions could examine the impact of modifying the intervention characteristics to include educational lessons that specifically focus on increasing social support.
Baker, Mary-Metta. (May 2016). Social Support among Mothers Enrolled in a Physical Activity Intervention (Master's Thesis, East Carolina University). Retrieved from the Scholarship. (http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5350.)
Baker, Mary-Metta. Social Support among Mothers Enrolled in a Physical Activity Intervention. Master's Thesis. East Carolina University, May 2016. The Scholarship. http://hdl.handle.net/10342/5350. August 21, 2019.
Baker, Mary-Metta, “Social Support among Mothers Enrolled in a Physical Activity Intervention” (Master's Thesis., East Carolina University, May 2016).
Baker, Mary-Metta. Social Support among Mothers Enrolled in a Physical Activity Intervention [Master's Thesis]. Greenville, NC: East Carolina University; May 2016.
East Carolina University