Seeking Community Input to Improve Implementation of a Lifestyle Modification Program

Published in: Ethnicity and Disease, v. 16, no. 1, suppl. 1, Winter 2006, p. S1-79-S1-88

by Cristina Punzalan, Keisha Paxton, Heather Guentzel, Ricky N. Bluthenthal, Anne D. Staunton, Gloria Mejia, Leo S. Morales, Jeanne Miranda

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OBJECTIVES: Obesity increases a person's risk for diabetes, which is becoming the most common chronic disease in the United States. Latina and African-American women in disadvantaged communities are at higher risk for becoming overweight and subsequently developing diabetes. The purpose of this focus group study was to guide our adaptation of an evidence-based lifestyle intervention and implementation of the Community-Based Lifestyle Balance program (CLSB). DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: The authors conducted 11 focus-group discussions with 87 African-American and Latina women in disadvantaged communities, including schools, senior centers, subsidized housing communities, and churches. The authors also conducted informal key informant interviews with community service providers and leaders. RESULTS: Discussions revealed high knowledge of healthy behavior and strong interest in making lifestyle changes. However, barriers such as competing demands on these women prevented long-term practice of healthy behaviors. Women frequently expressed feelings of guilt and self-blame in their attempts and failures to make healthy changes in their daily routine. Some patterns were identified that varied by age and race/ethnicity. These findings suggest guidelines for implementing this lifestyle intervention in a variety of community settings. CONCLUSIONS: Community-level changes such as safer streets and better access to quality grocery stores or markets, with affordable, healthy, fresh food can take years to accomplish. In the interim, CLSB can provide women with skills and strategies that can help improve their health and the health of their families.

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