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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Sofiya Alhassan

Second Advisor

John Sirard

Third Advisor

Rebecca Spencer

Subject Categories

Exercise Science | Maternal and Child Health | Other Kinesiology


Declining sleep duration and poor sleep quality is a public health epidemic disproportionately effecting elementary age girls living in low socioeconomic status urban communities. The Girls Dancing and Sleeping for Health (Girls DASH) program was designed to test the feasibility, acceptability, and efficacy of a combined physical activity and sleep education program in this population. In combination with baseline data from a previously conducted intervention in elementary age urban girls living in a low SES community in Springfield, MA, results from a cross-sectional analysis indicated that greater screen time was positively associated with parental reports of child’s sleep quality. Additionally, children who got more physical activity had fewer and shorter accelerometer-derived nighttime awakenings and minutes spent in bed. Subsequently, the process evaluation data from the Girls DASH program indicated several roadblocks in recruitment, retention, implementation, and attaining outcome measurements. However, there were aspects of the intervention, such as screen time education from the sleep education program, homework tutoring, after-school care and health education which participants deemed highly acceptable. Due to a high occurrence of missing data, it is difficult to draw conclusions regarding the efficacy of the intervention in improving sleep and physical activity. Judging from the available data, the intervention improved total moderate-to-vigorous physical activity significantly in the intervention groups vs. control. Additionally, there were improvements in after-school physical activity, parent-reported sleep duration and accelerometer-derived minutes spent in bed in all participants over time, with no differences between groups. The results from this study can be used to improve the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of future interventions seeking to improve sleep and physical activity in elementary age girls living in low socioeconomic status urban communities.