Correlates of Physical Activity in Urban African American Adults and Older Adults: Testing the Social Cognitive Theory

Neha Pravin Gothe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Older adults, especially ethnic minorities continue to be the least active segment of the U.S. population. Health disparities are evident in that African Americans participate in less physical activity (PA) and are less likely to meet PA guidelines compared with non-Hispanic Caucasians.

Purpose: Using the social cognitive theory (SCT), this study examined the individual, social, and physical environmental correlates of PA behavior.

Methods: Participants (N = 110, females = 96, mean age = 64.8 ± 5.7 years) were urban, community-dwelling African American adults and older adults who completed demographics and psychosocial questionnaires assessing (SCT) constructs of self-efficacy, outcome expectations, social support, and perceptions of the physical environment. A latent factor PA construct represented self-report (Godin Leisure-time Exercise Questionnaire, Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly) and objective (accelerometer worn for 7 days) PA.

Results: The direct and indirect effects of SCT constructs on PA were tested using structural equation modeling, and the overall model fit was adequate (comparative fit index = 0.94, root mean square error of approximation = 0.04, standardized root mean square residual = 0.05, chi square = 67.03, p = .17). Results indicated that: (a) self-efficacy was the strongest direct predictor of PA (β = 0.79) and also influenced outcome expectations (β = 0.457, p < .001); and (b) outcome expectations directly (β = 0.36) predicted PA. Among demographic moderators, only age was inversely associated with outcome expectations (β = -0.28). Social support or physical environment did not influence PA.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that self-efficacy and outcome expectations are important correlates of PA for African American adults and older adults. Future studies should examine the direct and indirect impact of PA interventions targeting self-efficacy and outcomes expectations to promote behavior change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)743-751
Number of pages9
JournalAnnals of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Aug 16 2018


  • Aging
  • Minority populations
  • Self-efficacy
  • Social cognitive theory
  • Structural equation modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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