He’s probably more Mr. sport than me” – a qualitative exploration of mothers’ perceptions of fathers’ role in their children’s physical activity

Jez Zahra, Simon Sebire, Russ Jago

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
392 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background
Many children do not meet the recommended levels of physical activity. Parents can influence their children’s physical activity in a number of ways but little research has focused on the impact of fathers. The current study aimed to explore how mothers perceived fathers to influence children’s physical activity.

Methods
Telephone interviews with mothers (n = 50) who took part in a large cross sectional physical activity study were conducted. A strategic sampling method was applied to ensure varying deprivation levels and child physical activity. Interviews were based on children’s physical activity and screen viewing behaviours and patterns. A total of 37 interviews included information on fathers and were used for the current study. Deductive content analysis was used to analyse the interviews.

Results
Mothers suggested that fathers are directly involved in their child’s physical activity though co-participation, whilst additionally playing an important role in encouraging and facilitating physical activity. The results suggest some variation in how mothers and fathers are involved in children’s physical activity behaviours. Father availability seems to play a key role in the amount of physical activity involvement.

Conclusions
Fathers play a key role in children’s physical activity choices and behaviours and can influence children in a variety of ways. Parents tend to share in the physical activity related tasks of their children but father availability seems to be a factor in their amount of involvement. Health professionals aiming to improve child physical activity may benefit from developing interventions that target both children and fathers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Pediatrics
Volume15
Issue number101
Early online date26 Aug 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2015

Bibliographical note

Date of Acceptance: 17/08/2015

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