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Development and validation of the attitudes toward outdoor play scales for children. Soc Sci Med 2015 May;133:253-60 PMID: 25459206 PMCID: PMC4571455

Pubmed ID

25459206

Abstract

The natural world has long been associated with health and described as a therapeutic landscape, and a growing body of research demonstrates the benefits of interacting with nature for mental and physical health. However, concern is growing that children have lost connection to the natural world and spend less time outdoors, despite the known health benefits of doing so. It is likely that healthy behaviors related to engagement with nature are mediated by beliefs about the value and safety of play in nature. While the literature abounds with qualitative examinations of children's attitudes toward outdoor play, there exist few instruments to quantitatively measure these attitudes. Informed by health behavior change theories, we describe the development and validation of the Attitudes toward Outdoor Play (ATOP) scales. As part of a community-academic partnership project called More Than a Pretty Place, the development of the ATOP scales unfolded in stages: (1) item generation based on a comprehensive literature review and consensus among the project team, (2) interviews with environmental educators, (3) initial pilot testing, (4) scale refinement, (5) administration during 2012 and 2013 to a sample of school children ages 9-13 (n = 362) in Milwaukee, WI, USA, and (6) quantitative psychometric evaluation. Two distinct scales emerged: ATOP-benefits (alpha = 0.79) and ATOP-fears (alpha = 0.79). Validity analyses found that both scales correlated as expected with measures of engagement in outdoor play, parental support for outdoor play, and sedentary behaviors. The ATOP scales are reliable and valid instruments for measuring attitudes toward outdoor play that may mediate children's outdoor activity in natural settings. The ATOP scales could be useful for evaluating the effects of programming, such as environmental education programming, on improving children's attitudes toward the benefits of nature and reducing their fears, and may predict more distal outcomes including engagement in outdoor activity.

Author List

Beyer K, Bizub J, Szabo A, Heller B, Kistner A, Shawgo E, Zetts C

Authors

Kirsten M. Beyer PhD, MPH Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Aniko Szabo PhD Associate Professor in the Institute for Health and Equity department at Medical College of Wisconsin




Scopus

2-s2.0-84939987729   2 Citations

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Adolescent
Attitude
Child
Cross-Sectional Studies
Exercise
Female
Humans
Male
Play and Playthings
Psychological Tests
Residence Characteristics
Safety
jenkins-FCD Prod-299 9ef562391eceb2b8f95265c767fbba1ce5a52fd6