Joint use policies: are they related to adolescent behavior?

OBJECTIVE: Joint use policies (JUP) encourage shared facility use, usually between schools and a city or private organization, for both physical activity-related and non-physical activity-related programs. Little is known about JUP's impact on physical activity (PA). This study examined whether more specific JUPs were associated with increased PA and decreased sedentary behavior (SB) in adolescents. METHODS: Data on PA, sports participation, and SB were taken from annual cross-sectional nationally representative samples of 51,269 8th, 10th and 12th grade public school students nested in 461 school districts in the US from 2009-2011. JUP measures were constructed using information obtained from corresponding school district JU policies. Multivariable analyses were conducted, controlling for individual demographic and socioeconomic characteristics and clustering at the district level. RESULTS: Results showed small associations between more specific JUPs and increased PA (IRR 1.01, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.02). Closer examination of specific JUP provisions indicates that specifying what times facilities are available for use was associated with vigorous exercise and prioritizing school or affiliated organizations' use and which spaces were available for use were associated with vigorous exercise and more frequent PA participation, which includes participation in sports or athletics. No associations were found between more specific JUPs and SB. CONCLUSIONS: JUPS may have small influences on adolescent physical activity behavior. Future longitudinal studies should be conducted to examine the impact of JUPs in conjunction with other physical activity-related policies and environmental changes to determine what impact they have on overall adolescent physical activity and sedentary behavior.