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2018 Annual Spring Conference

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FP021 Sports Participation to Improve Health: A National Survey of Youth Age 14-24

Christine Schmitt; Noah Zucker; Lauren Nichols, MPH; Tammy Chang, MD, MPH, MS

05/6/18 1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Exhibit Hall B South, Exhibition Level

Purpose: Adolescents who are physically active have better physical and academic outcomes later in life. However, only 27.1% of high school students met the recommended physical activity guidelines in 2015, and the percentages in each grade declined steadily from 9th to 12th grade. Participation in team sports in school is one of the easiest way for youth to maintain physical fitness. Our study aimed to understand the motivations and barriers to participating in youth sports. Methods: We administered a national text message survey to English-speaking youth age 14-24 across the country. Youth were recruited online (Instagram, Facebook) and were asked four open-ended questions regarding their thoughts on sports participation. (Did you participate in sports growing up? If yes, for how long?; Would you have liked to spend more time in sports? If so, what got in the way?; Do you think playing sports is important? Why or why not?; What might help more youth participate in sports?). Quantitative data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Qualitative data were analyzed by two investigators to find main themes and codes. Two investigators refined the codes, and iteratively developed a code book using in-person discussion to reach consensus. Results: Our sample included 495 youth with a mean age of 18.6 years (SD=3.1). The majority were non-Hispanic white (76%; 11.5% non-Hispanic black, 9.5% Hispanic, 3% other), women (60%; 33% men, 6% other). Twenty-seven percent of respondents reported receiving free or reduced lunch while in school. While approximately 82% of the respondents reported having played a sport at least once in their life, nearly 52% of respondents also reported that they would have liked to spend more time in their sport or have continued their sport(s) for a longer time (e.g. throughout high school or college), but were unable to due to various factors including schoolwork, other extra-curricular activities, and high costs associated with sports. Youth suggested lowering costs, providing transportation, increasing the number of facilities (fields, courts, gyms) and parks in neighborhoods, providing less competitive teams, and incorporating sports into the school day to increase participation in sports. Conclusion: Findings from this study could inform policies that promote youth-centered practices to increase physical activity, and help clinicians provide youth with concrete, accessible options to be more active within their communities.


Copyright 2018 by Society of Teachers of Family Medicine