Exploring Racial Disparities in Physical Activity and Quality of Life Through an Expectancy-Value Perspective

  • Xiangli GuEmail author
  • Tao Zhang
  • Tsz Lun (Alan) Chu
  • Jing Wang
  • Xiaoxia Zhang
  • Larry Nelson
  • Kyrah Brown



Alleviating racial/ethnic disparities in physical activity (PA) and health outcomes during childhood becomes an important public health priority as the nation’s populace continues to diversify. Guided by expectancy-value model, the purposes of this study were (a) to examine the potential differences in expectancy-value beliefs, PA and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) between African-American (AA) children and their American-Caucasian (AC) peers, and (b) to determine how the relationships among these variables might differ between the two racial groups.


Participants were 321 (152 boys; 189 AC) children from three schools who completed a previously validated questionnaire assessing their expectancy-value beliefs in physical education, leisure-time PA (PAQ-C), and HRQOL.


Students’ PA was positively associated with HRQOL among AC and AA children (p < .01). AA children had significant higher expectancy-value beliefs but lower HRQOL than AC children. The regression results revealed that both racial groups had a nearly identical effect of expectancy beliefs on their self-reported PA (β = .34 in AA group, β = .33 in AC group, respectively). The regression analysis also suggests that expectancy-value belief was a significant predictor of HRQOL while controlling for all other variables (β = .36; p < .001) for the AC group, but not the AA group.


The growing health disparities across racial/ethnic subgroups are of great public health concern. Thus, this study provided valuable insights regarding how to promote AA children’s PA and HRQOL through an expectancy-value approach.


Heath disparity African-Americans Motivation Mental health Physical activity 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© W. Montague Cobb-NMA Health Institute 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Texas at ArlingtonArlingtonUSA
  2. 2.University of North TexasDentonUSA
  3. 3.University of Wisconsin-Green BayGreen BayUSA

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