The effects of social support and cohesion on compliance behaviour in a health-related exercise setting
Fraser, Shawn Nelson
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Although social support and group cohesion have been linked to adherence in the volitional exercise setting, this relationship has not been examined in the nonvolitional or exercise compliance setting. The main purpose of the present study was to examine the roles of social support and group cohesion in the compliance behavior of individuals required to exercise for health-related reasons. Compliance behavior was assessed in two ways - attendance (i.e., high- attended more than 88% of the classes versus low- attended less than 61% of the classes) and drop-out behavior (graduate versus program drop-out). Participants (N = 70) drawn from a clinical exercise group completed modified versions of the Group Environment Questionnaire (Carron, Widmeyer and Brawley, 1985) to assess cohesion and the Social Provisions Scale (Cutrona and Russell, 1987) to assess social support. The results revealed that discriminant function analysis was able to discriminate between high and low attenders (Wilks' lambda= .636, X2(3) = 7.93, p = .05) as well as between drop-outs and graduates (Wilks' lambda= .826, X2(3) = 12.68, p = .005). Specifically, those participants reporting high scores on the social support provision of reassurance of worth and the cohesion factor of ATG-Task, along with low scores on the social support provision of guidance were more likely to attend a higher proportion of classes. In terms of drop-outs, the results revealed that those participants with higher scores on the social support provisions of reliable alliance and opportunity for nurturance combined with low scores on the social support provision of guidance were more likely to be graduates of the exercise program than drop-outs. These results partially supported the hypothesized positive relationship between the two group constructs and compliance behavior. As a secondary objective, the relative contributions of social support and group cohesion to compliance behavior also were examined. The results indicated that for drop-out behavior only the social support factors of opportunity for nurturance, reliable alliance, and guidance were relevant, while for high and low attendance behavior, the cohesion factor of ATG-Task and the social support variables of reassurance of worth and guidance were all necessary for any successful prediction. Practical implications and future directions also were discussed.