School Racial Climate and Racial Disparities in Youth Sedentary Behaviors Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Baker, Stephanie Lynnette
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Health Behavior
  • Racial disparities in adolescent sedentary behavior have been documented yet little is known about the influence of contexts such as schools. My study addressed this gap by focusing on three aims: (1) to develop a school-level measure of racial climate and determine whether students in schools with more negative racial climates engage in more sedentary behavior, (2) to determine whether individual perceptions of prejudice among students and unfair treatment among teachers towards students predict sedentariness, and (3) to assess whether the relationship between school racial climate and adolescent sedentary behavior is mediated by prejudice and unfair treatment. My conceptual model was based on a stress-coping behavior paradigm and informed by ecological theory, the integrative model of child development, contact theory, and the social network literature. To address the study aims, I used data from Waves 1 and 2 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to perform Confirmatory Factor Analysis and Multilevel Structural Equation Modeling. School racial climate was measured by using school-level structural indicators of cross-race interaction based on contact theory. Results indicated that the school racial climate can be reliably measured using structural indicators; however, the measure lacked invariance across race-gender subgroups. Therefore, a separate model was analyzed per group. For black males, as hypothesized, a more negative school racial climate was associated with increased sedentary behavior when prejudice was included as a mediator. Significant mediation was not found for any other race-gender subgroup. Results suggest that, except for black males, sedentary behavior may not be a coping strategy used by adolescents in response to a negative racial school climate, or that a negative school racial climate may not be a stressful context among all youth. Further, the findings suggest that the school racial climate may not be experienced similarly for black and white youth, and that the construct should be measured separately for each race, and possibly gender, subgroup. Additional research is needed to further clarify whether the school racial climate leads to other negative coping behaviors among black males, as well as to improve measurement of school racial climate among other race-gender subgroups.
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  • In Copyright
  • Ennett, Susan
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2013

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