Socioeconomic status, social influence and regular leisure-time physical activity: the mediating roles and relative importance of role modelling, social support and subjective social norm
Deventer, Melody van
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Background: People with low socioeconomic status (SES) are less likely to do regular leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), however, there is a lack of knowledge on the mediating roles and relative importance of social influence in this relationship. Therefore, this research examines the hypothesis that role modelling, social support and subjective social norm mediate the relationship between SES and regular LTPA, where social support is expected to be the most important type of social influence, respectively followed by role modelling and subjective social norm. Methods: 2360 participants of the Dutch longitudinal GLOBE-study of 2014 (54.3% female, Mage = 47.9 years, SDage = 15.5 years) fully completed a postal questionnaire measuring educational level (i.e., the SES-indicator), regular LTPA, and role modelling, social support and subjective social norm for regular physical activity. Logistic regressions and mediation analyses, using PROCESS, were used to assess the relationship between SES and regular LTPA, and the mediating effects and relative importance of the social influences. Results: Participants in the highest educational group (OR = 2.86, 95% CI [1.80, 4.56]) were more likely to do regular LTPA than their lower-status counterparts. SES was positively associated with subjective social norm, and all social influences were positively associated with regular LTPA. The association between SES and regular LTPA was partially mediated by subjective social norm, but not mediated by role modelling and social support, as both social influences were not significantly associated with SES. Conclusions: Subjective social norm for regular physical activity contributes to the explanation of socioeconomic differences in regular LTPA. Results suggest that intervention and policy strategies to reduce socioeconomic differences in regular LTPA and, ultimately, in health, would benefit from raising the social norm for regular LTPA in lower SES-groups. Future research may further investigate which other pathways are driving the relationship between SES and regular LTPA.
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