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Individual and contextual correlates of physical activity among a clinical sample of United States Veterans.

Hoerster KD, Millstein RA, Hall KS, Gray KE, Reiber GE, Nelson KM, Saelens BE. Individual and contextual correlates of physical activity among a clinical sample of United States Veterans. Social science & medicine (1982). 2015 Oct 1; 142:100-8.

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RATIONALE: Veterans, especially those using U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare, have poorer health than the general population. In addition, Veterans using VA services are more likely than non-VA users to be physically inactive. Little is known about physical activity correlates among Veterans. To identify targets for health promotion interventions, understanding barriers to and facilitators of physical activity in this population is critical. METHODS: This study examined individual-, social-, and perceived neighborhood-level associations of meeting weekly physical activity recommendations (150 min/week of combined leisure and transportation activity) based on the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) among N = 717 patients from VA Puget Sound, Seattle Division using a mailed survey sent 2012-2013 (response rate = 40%). Independent associations were identified with direct estimation of relative risks using generalized linear models (dichotomous outcome), and linear regression (continuous outcome), including variables associated in bivariate tests (p < .05). RESULTS: Most participants were male, Caucasian, and unemployed, and had an annual income = $40,000. Over two-thirds (69.9%) reported meeting physical activity recommendations. Fewer days of limitations due to physical or mental health (Relative Risk (RR) = 0.99 per day; 95% Confidence Interval (CI) = 0.98, 0.99; p = .01), others doing physical activity with the Veteran (RR = 1.18; 95% CI = 1.04, 1.33; p = .01), receiving ideas from others regarding physical activity (RR = 1.14; 95% CI = 1.01, 1.29; p = .03) and better perceived neighborhood aesthetics (RR = 1.14; 95% CI = 1.06, 1.24; p = .001) were associated with meeting physical activity recommendations. Findings were comparable for total weekly physical activity, but lower depression symptom severity was also associated with increased physical activity. CONCLUSION: This study identified individual and contextual correlates of physical activity among VA-using Veterans. Targeting these factors will be important in promoting physical activity in order to address the disproportionate disease burden facing U.S. Veterans. Existing VA interventions targeting physical activity may need to be adapted to account for the influence of contextual factors.

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