From attitude to action: What shapes attitude toward walking to/from school and how does it influence actual behaviors? Academic Article uri icon


  • Walking to/from school could promote children's physical activity and help combat childhood obesity. Parental attitudes have been identified as one of the important predictors. But it is unclear what factors shape parental attitudes, and how those in turn influence children's school travel. This study addresses this gap of knowledge by examining the mediating effect of parental attitudes for the relationships between personal, social, and built environmental factors and children's walking-to/from-school behaviors. Survey data (N=2597) were collected from 20 public elementary schools in Austin, Texas, measuring students' typical school travel mode; personal, social, and built environmental factors related to walking-to/from-school; and relevant parental attitudes. The analysis was conducted in M-plus 6.11 to test the proposed conceptual framework using a structural equation model (SEM). Parental attitudes showed significant mediating effects on walking-to/from-school behaviors. Older child, positive peer influence, walkable home-to-school distance, and favorable walking environments were associated with more enjoyment and lower attitudinal barriers, and in turn increased likelihood of walking to/from school. Being Hispanic, increased car ownership, and stronger traffic safety concerns reduced enjoyment and increased attitudinal barriers, and thus decreased likelihood of walking to/from school. This study highlighted the importance of using multilevel interventions to reduce attitudinal barriers and increase enjoyment of walking to/from school. Collaborations among different stakeholders are needed to address environmental issues (e.g., safety concerns) and social factors (e.g., peer influence), while being sensitive to personal factors (e.g., age, ethnicity, and car ownership).

published proceedings

  • Prev Med

author list (cited authors)

  • Yu, C., & Zhu, X.

citation count

  • 25

complete list of authors

  • Yu, Chia-Yuan||Zhu, Xuemei

publication date

  • September 2016