All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Carol J Dashiff

Advisory Committee Members

Anne Turner-Henson

David Vance

Retta Evans

Susan Davies

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Nursing


Diseases that were once considered to be unique to the adult population are now being diagnosed in childhood and adolescence. Health behaviors established during adolescence are believed to influence attitudes and motivations toward health practices well into adulthood. Poor dietary choices and decreased exercise frequency are believed to have a direct influence on the rising adolescent obesity rate and the premature onset of many chronic health conditions. Since the family unit is the primary source of socialization, parental interactions are believed to persuade adolescent attitudes, motivations, and behaviors through the negotiation and renegotiation of the adolescent's autonomy development. Adolescent autonomy is reflected in adolescent self-determination; self-determined adolescents tend to make choices that are not due to outside pressures. The purpose of this study was to examine the role of parental autonomy support in the motivation of the health behaviors of diet and exercise in older adolescents and to evaluate the significance of adolescent self-determination as a mediator of the association between parental autonomy support and adolescent motivation for diet and exercise behaviors. A total of 132 freshman and sophomore college students completed a set of questionnaires. In general, adolescents viewed mothers as more autonomy supportive than fathers (t = 2.32, p = .02). Hierarchical multiple regression was utilized to answer the study hypotheses. Pearson's correlation analysis was conducted to determine influential demographic variables. Significant demographic variables were controlled in each regression model. Parental autonomy support was not significant in the prediction of the adolescent's diet or exercise behaviors; however, parental autonomy support was predictive of the adolescent's self-determination (p < .001). Adolescent self-determination was predictive of the adolescent's motivation for diet (p < .05) but not exercise and suggested that the importance of healthy dietary patterns may be more internalized than the importance of exercise in the older adolescent population. The findings of this study suggested that parental autonomy support continues to influence adolescent internalization of attitudes and behaviors throughout adolescence; however, more general parental autonomy support may not be a primary predictor of motivation for specific health behaviors in older adolescents.

Included in

Nursing Commons



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