Are the correlates of active school transport context-specific?
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OBJECTIVES: Previous research consistently indicates that children who engage in active school transport (AST) are more active than their peers who use motorized modes (car or bus). However, studies of the correlates of AST have been conducted predominantly in high-income countries and have yielded mixed findings. Using data from a heterogeneous sample of 12 country sites across the world, we investigated the correlates of AST in 9–11-year olds. METHODS: The analytical sample comprised 6555 children (53.8% girls), who reported their main travel mode to school and the duration of their school trip. Potential individual and neighborhood correlates of AST were assessed with a parent questionnaire adapted from previously validated instruments. Multilevel generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) were used to examine the associations between individual and neighborhood variables and the odds of engaging in AST while controlling for the child’s school. Site moderated the relationship of seven of these variables with AST; therefore we present analyses stratified by site. RESULTS: The prevalence of AST varied from 5.2 to 79.4% across sites and the school-level intra-class correlation ranged from 0.00 to 0.56. For each site, the final GLMM included a different set of correlates of AST. Longer trip duration (that is, ⩾16 min versus ⩽15 min) was associated with lower odds of AST in eight sites. Other individual and neighborhood factors were associated with AST in three sites or less. CONCLUSIONS: Our results indicate wide variability in the prevalence and correlates of AST in a large sample of children from twelve geographically, economically and culturally diverse country sites. This suggests that AST interventions should not adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Future research should also explore the association between psychosocial factors and AST in different countries.