Brief parental self-efficacy scales for promoting healthy eating and physical activity in children: a validation study

BMC Public Health. 2021 Mar 19;21(1):540. doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10581-7.


Background: Brief scales to measure parental self-efficacy (PSE) in relation to children's obesogenic behaviours have not been developed and validated using more rigorous methodology such as invariance testing, limiting their generalisability to sub-groups. This study aimed to assess the construct validity and measurement invariance of brief PSE scales for children's intake of vegetables, soft drinks, and sweets, and physical activity.

Methods: Parents (n = 242) of five-to-seven-year-old children in disadvantaged and culturally diverse settings in Sweden responded to a questionnaire in Swedish with 12 items assessing PSE in relation to healthy and unhealthy behaviours. Construct validity was assessed with confirmatory factor analysis, invariance testing compared the scales by groups of parental sex, education, and child weight status. Criterion validity was evaluated using objective measures of children's physical activity and semi-objective measures of diet.

Results: Two-factor models showed moderate to excellent fit to the data. Invariance was supported across all groups for healthy behaviour scales. Unhealthy behaviour scales were invariant for all groups except parental education where partial metric invariance was supported. Scales were significantly correlated with physical activity and diet.

Conclusion: This study provides preliminary evidence for the validity of brief PSE scales and invariance across groups suggesting their utility for research and clinical management of weight-related behaviours.

Keywords: Confirmatory factor analysis; Construct validity; Invariance; Parental support; Psychometric evaluation; Schoolchildren; Sweden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diet, Healthy*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Parents
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden