Open Access Highly Accessed Study protocol

Barriers, facilitators and preferences for the physical activity of school children. Rationale and methods of a mixed study

María Martínez-Andrés1, Úrsula García-López1, Myriam Gutiérrez-Zornoza2, Beatriz Rodríguez-Martín3, María Jesús Pardo-Guijarro4, Mairena Sánchez-López5, Eugenio Cortés-Ramírez4 and Vicente Martínez-Vizcaíno16*

Author Affiliations

1 Centro de Estudios Sociosanitarios, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca, España

2 Facultad de Trabajo Social, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Cuenca, España

3 Facultad de Terapia Ocupacional, Logopedia y Enfermería, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Talavera de la Reina, Toledo, España

4 Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Castilla- La Mancha, Cuenca, España

5 Facultad de Educación, Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Ciudad Real, España

6 Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Edificio Melchor Cano, Centro de Estudios Socio-Sanitarios, Santa Teresa Jornet s/n, Cuenca 16071, España

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:785  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-785

Published: 14 September 2012



Physical activity interventions in schools environment seem to have shown some effectiveness in the control of the current obesity epidemic in children. However the complexity of behaviors and the diversity of influences related to this problem suggest that we urgently need new lines of insight about how to support comprehensive population strategies of intervention. The aim of this study was to know the perceptions of the children from Cuenca, about their environmental barriers, facilitators and preferences for physical activity.


We used a mixed-method design by combining two qualitative methods (analysis of individual drawings and focus groups) together with the quantitative measurement of physical activity through accelerometers, in a theoretical sample of 121 children aged 9 and 11 years of schools in the province of Cuenca, Spain.


Mixed-method study is an appropriate strategy to know the perceptions of children about barriers and facilitators for physical activity, using both qualitative methods for a deeply understanding of their points of view, and quantitative methods for triangulate the discourse of participants with empirical data. We consider that this is an innovative approach that could provide knowledges for the development of more effective interventions to prevent childhood overweight.

Built environment; School; Obesity; Social environment; Physical activity; Mixed-method study; Focus groups; Barriers; Health behavior