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Open Access Research

Family support and ease of access link socio-economic status and sports club membership in adolescent girls: a mediation study

Rochelle M Eime12*, Jack T Harvey2, Melinda J Craike3, Caroline M Symons1 and Warren R Payne1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, PO Box 14428, Melbourne, Victoria 8001, Australia

2 School of Health Sciences, University of Ballarat, PO Box 663, Ballarat, Victoria 3353, Australia

3 Faculty of Health, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Hwy, Burwood, Victoria, 3125, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:50  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-50

Published: 25 April 2013

Abstract

Background

Much research has been conducted into the determinants of physical activity (PA) participation among adolescent girls. However, the more specific question of what are the determinants of particular forms of PA participation, such as the link between participation through a sports club, has not been investigated. Accordingly, the aim of this study was to investigate the relationships between participation in a sports club and socio-economic status (SES), access to facilities, and family and peer support, for female adolescents.

Methods

A survey of 732 female adolescent school students (521 metropolitan, 211 non-metropolitan; 489 Year 7, 243 Year 11) was conducted. The survey included demographic information (living arrangements, ethnicity indicators, and indicators of SES such as parental education and employment status and locality); access to facilities; and family and peer support (travel, encouragement, watching, praise, joint participation). For each characteristic, sports club participants and non-participants were compared using chi-square tests. Multiple mediation analyses were used to investigate the role of access, family and peer support in the link between SES and sport participation.

Results

There were significant associations (p<0.05) between sports club participation and: all demographic characteristics; all measures of family and peer support; and access to sport-related facilities. Highest levels of participation were associated with monolingual Australian-born families, with two parents, at least one of whom was well-educated, with both parents employed, and high levels of parental assistance, engagement and support. Participation in club sport among both younger and older adolescent girls was significantly positively associated with the SES of both their neighbourhoods and their households, particularly in metropolitan areas. These associations were most strongly mediated by family support and by access to facilities.

Conclusions

To facilitate and promote greater participation in club sport among adolescent girls from low SES neighbourhoods and households, strategies should target modifiable determinants such as facility access and parental support. This will involve improving access to sports facilities and promoting, encouraging and assisting parents to provide support for their daughters’ participation in sport clubs.

Keywords:
Socio-economic status; Club sport; Adolescent females; Family support; Access