Exploring Racial Disparities in Physical Activity and Quality of Life Through an Expectancy-Value Perspective

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2019 Oct;6(5):973-980. doi: 10.1007/s40615-019-00598-5. Epub 2019 May 16.


Objectives: Alleviating racial/ethnic disparities in physical activity (PA) and health outcomes during childhood becomes an important public health priority as the nation's populace continues to diversify. Guided by expectancy-value model, the purposes of this study were (a) to examine the potential differences in expectancy-value beliefs, PA and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) between African-American (AA) children and their American-Caucasian (AC) peers, and (b) to determine how the relationships among these variables might differ between the two racial groups.

Method: Participants were 321 (152 boys; 189 AC) children from three schools who completed a previously validated questionnaire assessing their expectancy-value beliefs in physical education, leisure-time PA (PAQ-C), and HRQOL.

Results: Students' PA was positively associated with HRQOL among AC and AA children (p < .01). AA children had significant higher expectancy-value beliefs but lower HRQOL than AC children. The regression results revealed that both racial groups had a nearly identical effect of expectancy beliefs on their self-reported PA (β = .34 in AA group, β = .33 in AC group, respectively). The regression analysis also suggests that expectancy-value belief was a significant predictor of HRQOL while controlling for all other variables (β = .36; p < .001) for the AC group, but not the AA group.

Conclusions: The growing health disparities across racial/ethnic subgroups are of great public health concern. Thus, this study provided valuable insights regarding how to promote AA children's PA and HRQOL through an expectancy-value approach.

Keywords: African-Americans; Heath disparity; Mental health; Motivation; Physical activity.

MeSH terms

  • Black or African American / psychology*
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motivation*
  • Pediatric Obesity / ethnology
  • Quality of Life*
  • Schools
  • Southeastern United States / epidemiology
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People / psychology*
  • White People / statistics & numerical data