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A longitudinal examination of the interrelationship of multiple health behaviours

TitleA longitudinal examination of the interrelationship of multiple health behaviours
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsdeRuiter, W. K.
Date PublishedNovember
UniversityUniversity of Toronto
CityToronto, ON
Keywordsalcohol consumption, physical activity, public health, smoking

Background: Evaluating the interrelationship of health behaviours could assist in the development of effective public health interventions. Furthermore, the ability to identify cognitive mediating mechanisms that may influence multiple behavioural change requires further evaluation. Purpose: The objectives of this nationally representative multi-wave longitudinal analysis were: (1) to evaluate co-variation among health behaviours; specifically alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity, and smoking, and (2) to examine whether mastery acts as a mediating cognitive mechanism that facilitates multiple health behaviour change.Methods: Secondary data analysis was conducted on the first seven cycles of the Canadian National Population Health Survey. Data collection began in 1994/1995 and has continued biennially to 2006/2007. This longitudinal sample consisted of 15,167 Canadians 12 years of age or older. Alcohol consumption, leisure-time physical activity, and smoking were assessed as continuous variables. Parallel process growth curve models were used to analyze co-variation between health behaviours as well as to evaluate the potential mediating effects of perceived mastery. Results: An increase in leisure-time physical activity was associated with a greater reduction in tobacco use, while a flatter positive trajectory in alcohol consumption was associated with a steeper decline in tobacco use. Co-variation between alcohol consumption and leisure-time physical activity did not reach statistical significance. For the most part, mastery was unsuccessful in mediating the interrelationship of multiple behavioural changes.Conclusions: Health behaviours are not independent, but rather interrelated. Although one could argue that the estimated magnitude of such behavioural changes were quite small, modest and attainable behavioural changes at the population level can have considerable effects on the morbidity, mortality, and health care costs. In order to optimize limited prevention resources, these results suggest that population level intervention efforts targeting multiple modifiable behavioural risk factors may not need to occur simultaneously.

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