Effects of an online messaging intervention on physical activity support behaviours among parents of children with intellectual disabilities

What is this project about?

This research seeks to understand parental physical activity support behaviours, and how parents of children with intellectual disabilities respond to different physical activity promotion messaging strategies. Guided by the Extended Parallel Process Model, an online intervention will be conducted to assess the utility of combining health risk information and framed messages about physical activity.

How will we go about doing this project?

Following random condition assignment, participants will receive a newsletter containing varying combinations of health risk information and framed physical activity messages. Questionnaires will be completed to measure Extended Parallel Process Model constructs and parent physical activity support behaviours before and after message exposure.

Who can be involved?

Eligible participants will include parents or primary guardians of a child (between 5-17 years of age) with an intellectual disability (e.g., Down syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, or Fragile X syndrome).

What will be done with the research findings? 

Given concerns of low physical activity participation among children with intellectual disabilities and the crucial role that parents play in encouraging this behaviour, it is of utmost importance to investigate messaging approaches that enhance parent support for physical activity. The goal of this research is to generate theory-based evidence that will inform the development of optimally effective messages for motivating physical activity support among parents of children with intellectual disabilities. By translating findings from this project into practice, our research contributions aim to generate community-level impact through enhancing children with intellectual disabilities’ physical activity engagement, supporting their positive development, and encouraging lifelong health habits.

What is the next step?

Over the upcoming term, we intend to recruit participants, collect data, and interpret results, with aims to submit a manuscript for publication in a refereed journal. Moreover, as this project is in collaboration with Special Olympics Canada, the research plan involves ultimately disseminating findings through community-engaged knowledge mobilization.

Want to know more about this project?

If you have questions about the research or would like more information, please contact the principal investigator Dr. Rebecca Bassett-Gunter (rgunter@yorku.ca).