Measuring sport experiences in children and youth to better understand the impact of sport on health and positive youth development: designing a brief measure for population health surveys
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BACKGROUND: Despite the proliferation of studies examining youth sport participation, there are significant gaps in knowledge regarding the impact of youth sport participation on health and development. These gaps are not new, but have persisted due to limitations with how sport participation is measured. Much of the research to date has measured sport participation as binary (yes/no) or count measures. This has been especially true in survey-based research. Yet, at the same time, research has investigated youths' experiences in sport such as the influence of coaches, teammates, and parents. The ability to measure these experiences is constrained by the need to use a number of measures along with gaps in the content covered in existing measures. We propose to develop and test the Sport Experiences Measure: Children and Youth (SEM:CY) as a population survey-based measure that captures the salient aspects of youths' experience in sport. METHODS: The SEM:CY will be developed and tested across three phases. Phase I includes qualitative research with members of the sport community and engagement with an expert group to generate and obtain feedback on the initial item pool. In Phase II will recruit two consecutive samples of students from schools to complete the draft measure. Analysis will focus on assessing the items and factor structure of the measure. Factor structure will be assessed first with exploratory factor analysis and then confirmatory factor analysis. In phase III we will test the association between the SEM:CY with a measure of perceived competence, sport anxiety, and positive youth development to assess construct validity. We will also examine whether the structure of the measure varies by age or gender. DISCUSSION: The SEM:CY measure will provide a meaningful contribution to the measurement and understanding of youth sport participation. The SEM:CY can be used as a stand-alone measure to understand youth experiences in sport programs, or in combination with other health and development measures to better understand how youth sport can contribute to both positive and negative outcomes.
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