Mediators of Psychological Well-being in Adolescent Boys



      The aim of this study was to explore the effect of the Active Teen Leaders Avoiding Screen-time (ATLAS) intervention on psychological well-being in adolescent boys and to examine the potential mediating mechanisms that might explain this effect.


      ATLAS was evaluated using a cluster randomized controlled trial in 14 secondary schools located in low-income communities (N = 361 adolescent boys, mean age = 12.7 ± .5 years). The 20-week intervention was guided by self-determination theory and involved: professional development for teachers, provision of fitness equipment to schools, enhanced school sport sessions, researcher-led seminars, a smartphone application, and parental strategies for reducing screen time. Assessments were conducted at baseline and immediately post intervention (8 months). Psychological well-being was measured using the Flourishing Scale. Motivational regulations (intrinsic, identified, introjected, controlled, and amotivation) and basic psychological needs (autonomy, competence, and relatedness) in school sport, muscular fitness, resistance training skill competency, and recreational screen time were examined as potential mediating mechanisms of the intervention effect.


      The intervention effect on well-being was small but statistically significant. Within a multiple mediator model, changes in autonomy needs satisfaction, recreational screen time, and muscular fitness significantly mediated the effect of the intervention on psychological well-being.


      In addition to the physical health benefits, targeted physical activity programs for adolescent boys may have utility for mental health promotion through the mechanisms of increasing autonomy support and muscular fitness and reducing screen time.


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