Validity of a scale of neighbourhood informal social control relevant to pre-schoolers’ physical activity: A cross-sectional study

Ester Cerin*, Yi Nam Suen, Anthony Barnett, Wendy Y J HUANG, Robin R. Mellecker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Childhood physical activity (PA) is important for health across the lifespan. Time pre-schoolers spend outdoors, which has been associated with more PA, is likely influenced by parents’ perception of neighbourhood informal social control relevant to pre-schoolers' PA, defined as the willingness of neighbours to intervene to ensure social order and a safe community environment for young children's active play. To advance measurement of this construct, we assessed factorial and construct validities of the PA-related neighbourhood informal social control scale for parents of pre-schoolers (PANISC-PP). In 2013–2014, Hong Kong primary caregivers (n=394) of 3–5 year-old children completed a socio-demographic questionnaire, the preliminary version of the PANISC-PP, and self-report measures of theoretical neighbourhood correlates of PA-related neighbourhood informal social control (perceived signs of physical and social disorder, community cohesion, perceived stranger danger, risk of unintentional injury and traffic safety). The fit of the data to an a priori measurement model of the PANISC-PP was examined using confirmatory factor analyses. As the a priori model showed inadequate fit to the data, the factor structure was re-specified based on theoretical considerations. The final measurement models of the PANISC-PP showed acceptable fit to the data and consisted of three correlated latent factors: “General informal supervision”, “Civic engagement for the creation of a better neighbourhood environment” and “Educating and assisting neighbourhood children”. The internal reliability of the subscales was good (Cronbach's α values 0.82–0.89). Generalised additive mixed models indicated that all subscales were positively associated with community cohesion and scores on the subscale “Educating and assisting neighbourhood children” were related in the expected direction to all indicators of traffic and personal safety, supporting construct validity of the PANISC-PP. This study suggests that the PANISC-PP is a reliable and valid instrument for assessing parents’ perceived neighbourhood informal social control related to pre-schoolers' PA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-65
Number of pages9
JournalSSM - Population Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

User-Defined Keywords

  • Collective efficacy
  • Hong Kong
  • Physical activity
  • Preschool-age children
  • Safety
  • Scale validity


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