Guy Faulkner


Research Classification

Research Interests

Community Health / Public Health
behavioral medicine
Exercise Psychology
mental health
physical activity and public health
physical activity interventions

Relevant Thesis-Based Degree Programs

Research Options

I am available and interested in collaborations (e.g. clusters, grants).
I am interested in and conduct interdisciplinary research.
I am interested in working with undergraduate students on research projects.

Research Methodology

intervention research


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
Any time / year round

Physical activity and public health - intervention development and evaluation

I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.
I am open to hosting Visiting International Research Students (non-degree, up to 12 months).

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These videos contain some general advice from faculty across UBC on finding and reaching out to a potential thesis supervisor.

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision

Dissertations completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest dissertations.

The athlete's high? : can physical activity and sport participation prevent substance use in youth? (2023)

A particular period of experimentation and a time in which substance use behaviours might be first adopted is adolescence. The purpose of my dissertation was, first, to examine if physical activity prevents substance use behaviour among youth; and second, to assess if school connectedness plays a role in this association. In study 1, a scoping review was conducted to examine the prospective associations between physical activity and substance use. Based on the findings from the scoping review, the second study utilized a cross-sectional design to examine physical activity (meeting MVPA guidelines; non-competitive or competitive school sport; outside-of-school sport) and associations with four current substance use behaviours (cigarette, e-cigarette, cannabis, binge drinking). Study 2 also tested if school connectedness moderated these associations. Finally, study 3 examined if changes in physical activity may be associated with the initiation of current substance use while evaluating the potential moderation and mediation of school connectedness. Studies 2 (n=73,672 ) and 3 (n=3,244) utilized a combined three years of the COMPASS study (Y:6 2017-2018, Y:7 2018-2018, Y:8 2019-2020). Within studies 2 and 3 multi-level logistic regressions were built with different predictors and outcomes to reflect the longitudinal nature of study 3. While results demonstrate evidence for cross-sectional and prospective associations between physical activity and substance use, not all associations were negative. Additionally, less evidence was found prospectively (study 3) than cross-sectionally (study 2) for the associations between physical activity and substance use. Study 2 provided evidence for school connectedness moderating the cross-sectional association between physical activity and substance use. Study 3 found evidence for school connectedness negatively mediating the association between two distinct types of sport participation (outside-of-school and competitive school sport) and current substance use (e-cigarette use and cannabis use). Overall, there was no evidence that physical activity confers broad, universal benefits in preventing substance use among youth. Sport participation may provide a contextual experience that enhances school connectedness which in turn is associated with substance use prevention. Future work should be considered to confirm this possibility.

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Popping the bubble wrap: examining children's independent mobility in Canada (2021)

Children’s independent mobility is defined as a child’s freedom to travel and play in their neighbourhood without adult supervision. While independent mobility is associated with a range of benefits there is also evidence that a number of children today have less independent mobility than previous generations. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore children’s independent mobility and 1) identify and examine the social-ecological correlates of children’s independent mobility and 2) explore the nuances of children’s independent mobility from children’s and parents’ perspectives as a family unit. This multi-method dissertation adopted a social-ecological approach to examine children’s independent mobility. Study 1 was a systematic review (n=43 articles included) examining the correlates of children’s independent mobility in primarily Western, industrialized countries. This review identified significant correlates at every social-ecological level and highlighted that Canadian studies were geographically limited. Study 2 was a multi-site school-based study examining correlates of children’s independent mobility across different sites in Canada (n=1699 participants). Independent mobility varied across study sites, but parental perceptions of safety and the environment were consistently associated with independent mobility. Study 3 was a qualitative study exploring children’s and parents’ perspectives of children’s independent mobility within the family unit through face-to-face interviews (n=66 participants; n=22 families) across three neighbourhoods in the Greater Vancouver Area. This study highlighted key preconditions associated with helping children and their parents negotiate independent mobility including 1) parents’ positive interpretation of their childhood experiences of independent mobility, 2) a positive appraisal of children’s individual characteristics by both children and parents, 3) communication within the family unit, and 4) positive perceptions of the neighbourhood social environment. This dissertation builds on existing literature, highlights the complexities of independent mobility, and provides supporting evidence for multi-level and multi-sectoral initiatives that are aimed at promoting children’s independent mobility.

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Assessing physical activity and sedentary behaviour in individuals with schizophrenia (2020)

Individuals with schizophrenia have a greatly reduced life expectancy compared to the general population due in part to higher rates of diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. Individuals with schizophrenia also engage in lower volumes of physical activity and engage in more sedentary behaviour, which contributes to poor overall health. Evaluating time spent in such movement behaviours accurately is necessary to engage in all phases of behavioural epidemiology and for developing interventions to induce behaviour change.This dissertation evaluates whether the most commonly used self-report questionnaire, the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ), for measuring time spent in physical activity (Chapter 2) and sedentary behaviour (Chapter 3) among people with schizophrenia is an accurate representation of movement behaviours in people with schizophrenia compared to accelerometry derived scores. After quantifying the discrepancy between measurement methods, Chapter 4 explores individual level correlates of this discrepancy to understand what factors may contribute to less accurate IPAQ scores, and regression-calibration adjustments to IPAQ scores were evaluated using a 5-fold cross-validation approach as a possible method to improve score accuracy. Subsequently, Chapter 5 assesses whether accelerometry protocols were adhered to consistently in the sample and accelerometry data were used to evaluate the composition of movement behaviours in this sample across the week; an isotemporal substitution approach is used to determine whether replacing one movement behaviour with another (e.g. sedentary behaviour with moderate intensity physical activity) is associated with health and demographic factors while controlling for all other movement behaviours. The results of these studies suggests that IPAQ scores should no longer be used as a measure of time spent in movement behaviours in individuals with schizophrenia; researchers and medical professionals are recommended to use more direct methods of movement measurement such as accelerometry or leverage the already widespread adoption of consumer smart devices to collect movement behaviour data that better represents how individuals with schizophrenia spend their waking day.

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Translating knowledge to action: creation of the evidence-based Exercise and Depression Toolkit for health care providers working with individuals with depression (2020)

The purpose of this dissertation was to 1) use a systematic and phased process to develop an evidence-based resource (toolkit) about exercise and depression for health care providers working with adults with depression in Canada (based on treatment guidelines) and 2) provide a step by step guide for translating knowledge into action for health care interventions. This dissertation was guided by the Knowledge to Action Framework and the AGREE II (Appraisal of Guidelines for Research & Evaluation) instrument. Study 1 was a scoping review to identify the barriers and facilitators to engagement in physical activity (PA) and exercise for adults with depression. A behavioural analysis informed by the Theoretical Domains Framework (TDF) determined that future intervention should target the emotion and social influences domains. Study 2 was a scoping review to identify the barriers and facilitators to PA promotion by health care providers (HCP) working with individuals with mental illness. The most prominent barriers and facilitators were within the domains of beliefs about the consequences and environmental context & resources. Study 3 was a qualitative study to guide toolkit development. Interviews were conducted with adults with lived experience with depression (AWD) and HCP. Study 4 described the systematic and phased process used to develop the evidence-based ‘Exercise and Depression Toolkit’ for HCP working with AWD. The four phases included: reviews of relevant literature, formative interviews, an expert panel meeting, and final toolkit development. Various stakeholders were involved throughout the process including HCP, AWD, researchers, and exercise professionals. Study 5 evaluated the ‘Exercise and Depression Toolkit’ in practice by HCP working with AWD and attained feedback on the toolkit to inform national dissemination and uptake. The toolkit was found to be acceptable and have positive innovation attributes. Concerns about effort and time to use it in practice informed dissemination plans and selection of end users. Together, the studies in this dissertation have resulted in the first evidence-based resource, the ‘Exercise and Depression Toolkit’, to help health care providers and individuals with depression collaboratively consider exercise as a treatment.

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Assessment and training of physical literacy in early childhood educators (2019)

Educators working in early childhood education and care receive little to no training in physical activity or physical literacy. However, they are expected to adhere to government standards for physical activity and skill development during the childcare day. This dissertation sought to determine what characterizes a successful intervention aiming to train educators in physical activity and/or physical literacy, what barriers and facilitators educators identify in meeting daily activity standards, what the physical literacy of educators is, and if educator physical literacy is associated with their behaviours and intentions to provide physical activity or physical literacy activities regularly. A systematic review was undertaken to parse apart the distinct characteristics of effective training interventions in physical activity or physical literacy. Training programs that provided ongoing support, relied on a theoretical framework, and objectively measured study fidelity were more successful. Educators were interviewed (n=24) to assess facilitators and barriers they face when implementing policy mandated activity standards. Results demonstrated that the personal values of educators facilitated adherence, and if physical space was poor, or resources were low, adherence was inhibited. Finally, a cross-sectional study measured the physical literacy of educators (n=94), and utilized regression analysis to determine relationships between measured physical literacy and self-reported behaviours and intentions to provide physical activity and/or physical literacy opportunities daily. Physical activity behaviour and understanding were high, but the remaining components of physical literacy were moderate. A relationship was found between educator self-reported intentions and behaviours for providing physical activity opportunities and the physical literacy component of understanding, but no relationship was found for the other components of physical literacy. The results of these three studies demonstrate that educators are trainable in physical activity and physical literacy, but high-quality training programs that provide continued support and/or training for educators are needed. Training programs may not need to focus on the personal physical literacy of educators. Mandating training for educators to provide quality physical literacy opportunities to children should be a high public health priority.

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Master's Student Supervision

Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.

“I’m going to change the WiFi password if you don’t go outside” : a temporal exploration of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on parenting practices (2023)

Background: Parenting practices have been found to be an important source of influence on the movement behaviours of children (Hutchens & Lee, 2018; Samaha & Hawi, 2017). Parenting practices may be susceptible to influence from external factors (Davison et al., 2013) and public health measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic likely impacted family life and the behaviours of family members. The purpose of this study was to qualitatively explore the impact of the pandemic on parenting practices over time and in doing so, examine the extent to which they are malleable in response to changing circumstances. Methods: One-on-one semi-structured interviews with 40 parents of school-aged children (aged 7-11) in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia (Canada) were conducted via Zoom in August, 2021 after the first 18 months of the pandemic. A narrative thematic analysis (Palomäki et al., 2013; Braun & Clarke, 2021) was undertaken to a) develop themes mapping the key impacts on parenting practices and b) organize the temporal patterns of impacts into shared case trajectories of those impacts over time. Results: Four primary themes were first constructed to highlight the pertinent changes in parenting practices: 1) Screen time permissiveness, 2) Force and coercion, 3) Parents as active agents of unstructured physical activity, and 4) Stepping back from structured physical activity. These impacts were temporally organized into three distinct case trajectories that each represent a shared, chronological narrative for how the first 18 months of the pandemic were broadly experienced by parents. The three trajectories were characterized as: 1) “back to business as usual” (resilience) 2) “Stuck in a rut” (enduring impact) and 3) “Upside to slowing down” (adaptive growth). Discussion: Parenting practices are malleable in response to changing circumstances and have been impacted in both temporary and enduring manners that may continue beyond the pandemic. Further research is needed to longitudinally assess these trajectories in order to support families and enhance the theoretical understanding of parenting practices.

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Mind Fit: evaluation of a community-based wellness program for adolescents experiencing depression and/or anxiety (2021)

Exercise, a subset of physical activity, is a promising treatment for mild-to-moderate depression and anxiety in adolescents (teens). Mind Fit is an 8-week, group-based, early-intervention wellness program that combines physical activity with mental health discussions for teens (13- to 18-years-old) experiencing mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression and/or anxiety in British Columbia, Canada. The purposes of this thesis were to: 1) conduct an outcome evaluation to assess short-term and 3-month effects of Mind Fit on targeted health outcomes; 2) conduct a process evaluation to examine the facilitators and barriers related to program implementation and success; and 3) assess the effects of site-specific level of program implementation on targeted outcomes over a 2-year period.To assess key outcomes, measures of depression (PHQ-9), anxiety (GAD-7), overall wellness (ORS), physical activity (GLEQ/COMPASS), and motivation were assessed at baseline, post-program, and 3-month follow-up using self-reported surveys. Overall, 184 teens participated in the evaluation across 10 sites. The following outcomes significantly improved from baseline to post-program (Time 1) and baseline to 3-month follow-up (Time 2): PHQ-9 (p=.001; d=.41), GAD-7 (p=.000; d=.51), and ORS (p=.001; d=.34). Physical activity motivation significantly improved at Time 1 (p=.035; d=.22). GLEQ/COMPASS did not significantly improve at Time 1 or 2.To examine the facilitators and barriers to Mind Fit implementation and success, 39 telephone interviews were conducted post-program with teens and 41 with program staff. Unique to this thesis, factors influencing implementation were assessed by all site Coordinators at the end of each cycle using an evidence-based questionnaire. Facilitators included: strong motivation and staff buy-in, uniqueness of Mind Fit in the community/organization, social connections among participants, supportive Instructors, and well-developed curriculum. Barriers included: available space and equipment, satisfactory staff training, and low teen recruitment. Descriptive statistics demonstrated a greater reduction in PHQ-9 and GAD-7 scores at high-implementation sites.Findings of this research demonstrate the effectiveness of community-based, early-interventions delivered ‘at scale’ to improve the mental health of teens experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Facilitators and barriers of program implementation and success can be used to inform future development of similar interventions.

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Running to quit? Exploring predictors of attendance in an exercise and smoking cessation intervention (2020)

Run to Quit (RTQ) is a national smoking cessation and learn to run program with promising cessation and physical activity outcomes. However, attrition was high with only 41.1% of participants completing the program. Determining predictors of attendance could help to improve attendance and program effectiveness in future iterations. Given that the program was offered in a group setting, the purposes of this study were to explore predictors of attendance and examine whether including group-related variables added to the prediction of attendance beyond individual variables.Blocked multiple regression analysis was used, with mean substitution for missing data (n=335). Individual predictors included in block 1 were middle aged adults, older adults, gender, home ownership, quit self-efficacy, run self-efficacy, baseline nicotine dependence (FTND), and baseline moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA). Group-related predictors added in block 2 were group cohesion subscales (attraction to group-task, attraction to group-social (ATG-S), group integration-task, group integration-social), transformational leadership (TL) of the coach, belonging, perceived similarity, and group size (control variable).When only individual predictors were included, the model was statistically significant and explained 4.8% of the variance in attendance (adjusted R²=.048, F(8,326)=3.111, p=.002). Both baseline MVPA (β=-.135, p=.013) and FTND (β=-.135, p=.015) were statistically significant predictors of attendance. Once group-related predictors were added, the overall model identified additional individual and group-related predictors of attendance. Both individual and group predictors were significant and adding group-related variables explained an additional 4.2% of the variance. Overall, the final model explained 9.0% of the variance (adjusted R²=.090, F(16,318)=3.067, p<.001 with="" being="" an="" older="" adult="" p=".023)," male="" having="" lower="" ftnd="" mvpa="" higher="" atg-s="" belonging="" and="" tl="" significantly="" predicting="" attendance.this="" evaluation="" identified="" both="" individual="" group-related="" predictors="" of="" attendance="" however="" the="" model="" explained="" a="" modest="" amount="" variance="" suggesting="" that="" there="" are="" additional="" factors="" predict="" such="" as="" logistical="" personal="" reasons="" further="" exploration="" is="" needed.="" future="" rtq="" programs="" may="" benefit="" from="" promoting="" aspects="" cohesion="" sense="" belonging.="">
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