Abstract 15444: Comparing Quantitative and Qualitative Data to Determine the Impact of Peer Mentoring on Physical Activity in the Heart Healthy Kids Program
Background: Childhood physical inactivity is contributing to obesity and preventable chronic disease. The objective of the Heart Healthy Kids (H2K) program is to examine the effectiveness of peer mentoring in improving physical activity levels of grades 4, 5, and 6 students. The purpose of this work is to triangulate results of quantitative physical activity data with results of a qualitative sub-study examining the experience of peer mentoring.
Methods: Schools (n=10) were assigned to be control or experimental (n=5 each). The physical activity component of H2K included participant assignment to teams competing against one another in virtual distance traveled. Experimental schools had a peer mentoring program that occurred during biweekly lunchtime activities. School-day physical activity data were quantitatively evaluated using pedometers. The qualitative sub-study included 3 focus groups with child participants and 6 interviews with parents and teachers. Qualitative data underwent thematic analysis.
Results: Quantitative physical activity data were collected from 581 participants in grades 4 to 6 with a mean age of 9.9 years. Students in peer mentoring schools, on average, logged significantly more steps per school day than those in control schools (6940 compared to 5934, p=0.02). Major themes from qualitative data included that peer mentors were perceived as encouragers of physical activity, helpers and supporters, and organizers and administrators. Other themes indicated that mentoring positively impacts social networks, and that being a peer mentor is perceived as positive.
Conclusion: Quantitative data indicated significant improvement in school day physical activity in the presence of peer mentoring. Qualitative data indicated the positive impact of peer mentoring on physical activity and associated characteristics. Qualitative themes support quantitative findings through convergence, indicating the overall positive impact of peer mentoring on the target outcome. This research may contribute to the ongoing development of the H2K program, and other similar programs and research.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.