Contextual and Individual Predictors of Physical Activity: Interactions Between Environmental Factors and Health Cognitions
Schuz, B and Wurm, S and Ziegelmann, JP and Wolff, JK and Warner, LM and Schwarzer, R and Tesch-Romer, C, Contextual and Individual Predictors of Physical Activity: Interactions Between Environmental Factors and Health Cognitions, Health Psychology, 31, (6) pp. 714-723. ISSN 0278-6133 (2012) [Refereed Article]
Objective: Although health behavior theories assume a role of the context in health behavior selfregulation,
this role is often weakly specified and rarely examined. The two studies in this article test
whether properties of the environment (districts) affect if and how health-related cognitions are translated
into physical activity. Methods: Multilevel modeling was used to examine the assumed cross-level
interactions. Study 1 is a large-scale survey representative of the German adult population (N=6,201).
Gross domestic product (GDP) on the level of administrative districts was used to indicate environmental
opportunities and barriers. Study 2 examined cross-level interactions of proximal predictors of physical
activity (intentions, action planning, and coping planning) in older adults with multiple illnesses (N=
309), a high-risk group for health deteriorations. Results: Study 1 showed that on the individual level,
health attitudes (B=.11) and education (B=.71) were significantly associated with physical activity.
GDP moderated the attitudes-behavior relation (b=.01), with higher attitude-behavior relations in
districts with higher GDP. Study 2 finds that intention (B=.16), action planning (B=.17), and coping
planning (B=.13) significantly predict activity. In addition, district-level GDP significantly moderated
the relations between action planning and coping planning, but not intention, on physical activity.
Conclusions: Results suggest that the effects of health attitudes and planning on physical activity are
moderated by environmental factors. Districts with higher GDP provide better contextual opportunities
for the enactment of concrete if-then plans for physical activity. This has implications for both theory and
health behavior theory; environment; physical activity;self-regulation; multilevel modeling