Physical activity-specific support provision and self-efficacy in couples: inter-relations over time

  • D.H. Hohl
  • J. Keller
  • S. Burkert
  • N. Knoll


Background: In the course of life-style changes, such as increasing regular physical activity, partners often provide support to each other. Whether this then translates into more efficient behaviour change might depend on how being provided with support relates to receiving partners’ self-efficacy. To shed light on the dynamics of this relationship we examined actor and partner effects among provided support and self-efficacy over time. Methods: Data from 338 heterosexual couples (age range: 18-80 years) motivated to increase their physical activity were analysed. Both partners reported on their provided support to each other and their self-efficacy (both physical activity-specific) at 6 measurement points in time, spanning 1 year. Findings: Comparisons of nested longitudinal structural equation models based on the actor-partner interdependence model yielded a well-fitting final solution, indicating stationarity of most lagged actor and partner effects. Whereas highly self-efficacious men subsequently provided more support to their female partners (lagged actor effect), women’s self-efficacy was predicted by their own prior support provision to their male partners (lagged actor effect). A non-stationary partner effect indicated that men’s later self-efficacy increased when their partners had provided them with support earlier. Findings also indicated reciprocal support provision among partners over time. Discussion: Gender-/role differences in inter-relations among partners’ provided support and self-efficacy over time suggested that women’s support provision was more beneficial as it seemed to enable both their partners’ and their own self-efficacy. The same was not true for men’s support provision that was also co-dependent on their own prior self-efficacy.