Student activity and sport Study Ireland: Protocol for a web-based survey and environmental audit tool for assessing the impact of multiple factors on university students’ physical activity

Joseph Murphy, Catherine Woods, Marie H Murphy, Niamh Murphy, Neal Byrne, Ciaran Mac Donncha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Increasing proportions of the global population transition through a university setting, a setting associated with engagement in behaviors that diminish health such as high levels of physical inactivity. Increasing physical activity (PA) is a key element of health promotion strategies in many countries, but a better understanding of students’ PA and how it is associated with personal, behavioral, and environmental factors is needed. Studies provide protocols to collect information regarding these factors separately; however, none have developed a validated systematic approach to gather information pertaining to all across a whole country.

Objective: The purpose of this project is to examine students’ physical activity and how it is associated with personal, behavioral, and environmental factors.

Methods: Student Activity and Sport Study Ireland (SASSI) is a university-based cross-sectional study that was carried out across the island of Ireland in 2014. A novel and comprehensive Web-based environmental audit tool (EAT) gathered information pertaining to the environment provided by universities for physical activity. A Web-based student survey (SS) collected information about physical activity beliefs, attitudes, motivations, and behaviors of students. The audit tool and SS were developed through rigorous consultation processes involving international experts. An institutional champion volunteered at each university to recruit, administer, and ensure the completion of both assessments.

Results: Data collection was undertaken between May and December 2014. A total of 80% (33/41) of universities completed the EAT, whereas 88.31% (8122/9197) of students (49.10% [3966/8122] male; mean 23.17 [SD 6.75], years) completed the SS sufficiently. Studies are currently underway with the data collected using this protocol.

Conclusions: SASSI provides a novel and comprehensive protocol for systematically assessing the PA of students and the related personal, behavioral, and actual environmental factors. The strengths of the SASSI study are presented and include high response rates and a unique dataset that can provide information to relevant stakeholders and policy makers, along with aiding the development of university environments and interventions that promote PA involvement. The weaknesses of the protocol are recognized with suggestions given to overcome them in future research. This protocol is applicable for other countries and has great potential to create harmonization of data, which would allow for direct comparisons across nations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere10823
Pages (from-to)220-230
JournalJMIR Research Protocol
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online date19 Apr 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • Environment
  • Physical activity
  • Students
  • Universities
  • environment
  • universities
  • students
  • physical activity

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