Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Individualized Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program

Department or School/College

Interdisciplinary Studies Program

Committee Co-chair

Blakely D. Brown, Gyda Swaney

Commitee Members

Kari Jo Harris, Dusten Hollist, Curtis W. Noonan


American Indian, Community-based participatory research, Elementary school children, Focus Groups, Physical Activity, Tribal community


University of Montana


This dissertation used a mixed-methods approach to conduct two inter-related studies focused on increasing physical activity (PA) in children in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades on an American Indian (AI) reservation in the northwestern US. Study 1 assessed enhancers and barriers to increasing PA in elementary school children. Six focus groups were conducted with children and adults. Each focus group was comprised of 7 to 11 participants and lasted approximately one hour. The analysis revealed strategies to increase PA during the school day that included implementing structured activities during recess and painting lines on the playground for games such as hopscotch and four-square. The results of Study 1 were reported back to the focus group participants and the school for review. Further input was gathered as part of the planning for Study 2. Study 2 assessed pre-to-posttest differences in self-reported PA and motivation to participate in PA, and body composition (height, weight, and waist circumference) in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade children (mean age = 11 ▒ 0.9; n = 61; AI = 28; White = 33). The recess intervention was pilot-tested during recess and included three zones: an area where lines were painted (Zone 1), an area where permanent playground equipment was located (control area; Zone 2), and an area where structured recess activities were facilitated bi-weekly (football, soccer, basketball, and ultimate frisbee; Zone 3). The 8-week intervention found significant pre-to-posttest differences in PA between all 3 zones. Females engaged in significantly more moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and vigorous physical activity (VPA) in Zone 1 and Zone 2 compared to males. Males engaged in significantly more MVPA and VPA in Zone 3 compared to females. There was no difference in PA levels between bi-weekly facilitator led activities in Zone 3. These studies demonstrate how a CBPR, mixed-methods approach is inter-related and developed from the community's perspective. The findings from this study offer insight into a field that has been relatively unexplored in Indian country and may help investigators determine effective and sustainable strategies to increase PA during recess in elementary school children on an AI reservation.



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