Psychosocial factors related to children’s active school travel: A comparison of two European regions

David McMinn, David A. Rowe, Shemane Murtagh, Norah M. Nelson, Ivan Čuk, Almir Atiković, Mojca Peček, Gavin Breslin, Elaine M. Murtagh, Marie H. Murphy

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Background. Inequalities in health-behaviors exist between regions of Europe, along a North West/South East axis. We investigated whether prevalence of walking to school and associated psychosocial antecedents differed between these two European regions. Methods. Participants were 1,263 children aged 7-11 years, from five countries. Children from North West Europe (n = 641) and South East Europe (n = 622) completed a school travel questionnaire that measured demographics, school commuting mode, travel companion, feelings about their local area, and Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) variables related to walking to school. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to investigate differences in TBP variables between children from the two regions of Europe. Results. More children from South East Europe walked to school (70.8%) compared to those in the North West (47%). For the TPB variables, a significant multivariate main effect for region was found (Wilks’ λ=.94, F (4, 1201)=20.55, p<.01, partial eta squared =.06). Significant (p<.01) univariate main effects for region were obtained for attitude, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control. Pairwise comparisons indicated that scores on these variables were higher on average for children from North West Europe compared to those from the South East. Conclusion. Inequalities in walking to school exist between European regions. Children from South East Europe walk to school more than their counterparts from the North West. However children from North West Europe display higher scores on TPB variables, suggesting that psychosocial constructs related to walking to school may not explain rates of engagement in this behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)75-86
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Exercise Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • school travel
  • planned behaviour
  • physical activity
  • health behaviour inequalities
  • Europe


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