The design, development, implementation and evaluation of the Gaelic4Girls intervention

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Farmer, Orlagh
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University College Cork
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Background: It is widely reported that girls are less physically active than boys throughout childhood, and the age-related decline in physical activity (PA) participation, particularly from early adolescence onwards, is steeper for girls than for boys. Correlates of PA, such as fundamental movement skills (FMS), club-based participation in organised youth sport (OYS), psychological correlates (self-efficacy, enjoyment, PA attitudes), and social support structures (family and peer support) during childhood and adolescence contributes considerably to leisure-time PA for health-enhancing benefits in young girls. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to design, develop, implement and evaluate a multi-component community sports-based PA intervention, specifically tailored for 8- to 12- year old girls in Ladies Gaelic Football (LGF) clubs in Ireland. The existing programme, known as Gaelic4Girls (G4G), was re-designed and revised using the theoretical underpinnings of the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) and elements of the Social Ecological Model (SEM). Methodology: Data for this PhD thesis were gathered from participants (n= 568), using a mixed-methods research design. At baseline, information was gathered on participants (n = 331) levels of PA (self-report questionnaire), FMS proficiency (live assessment of motor skills), and psychological correlates of PA (self-report questionnaire), using validated and reliable protocol. A sub-sample of participants (n = 37) also participated in focus group interviews to explore their perceptions of PA and sport participation. Based on this data, and an exploration of the literature, a revised G4G intervention was developed. A quasi-experimental, non-randomised controlled trial involving three community sports clubs (group 1 - revised G4G intervention; group 2 - existing G4G programme; and group 3 - control condition) was then implemented to evaluate the revised G4G intervention’s efficacy. Participants’ data (n=120) was collected at pre and post time points on the following variables; PA levels, FMS proficiency, and psychological correlates of PA. Focus group data (n = 6) was collected at post-intervention to explore perceptions of the revised G4G intervention. Results: Following a 2 (pre to post) by 3 (group 1, 2 and 3) mixed-model ANOVA, it was highlighted over time that the revised G4G intervention group 1 significantly increased in PA (mean change = 39.7, SD = 81.66, p=.003), FMS proficiency (mean change = 1.86, SD = 4.78, p=.005) and their associated psychological correlates of PA (namely self-efficacy (p<.002), perceived self-confidence (p<.002), enjoyment (p<.003), attitudes towards PA (p<.003), and family social support (p<.002). FG findings reported positive findings for the revised G4G intervention group 1 participants, specifically the heightened psychological wellbeing for girls, and the establishment of emerging friendships between peers. Conclusion: The findings demonstrate that the 10-week specifically tailored, research-informed and revised G4G intervention is a feasible and efficacious programme, leading to a positive effect on the physical and psychological wellbeing of pre-adolescent Irish girls, as relative to the traditionally delivered existing G4G comparative programme, and control group conditions. Further research involving a randomised controlled trial, with a larger sample size is warranted.
Physical activity , Organised youth sport , Female youth , Physical activity correlates , Fundamental movement skills , Sport participation , Coach education
Farmer, O. 2020. The design, development, implementation and evaluation of the Gaelic4Girls intervention. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.