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Title: Shaping health: understanding and influencing lifestyle behaviours in low socioeconomic women
Authors: Wittels, Paula Ya’el
Advisors: Kay, T
Mansfield, L
Keywords: Diet;Physical Activity;Motherhood;Ethic of Care;Public Health Intervention
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: Women of low socioeconomic status (SES) can expect to live shorter and less healthy lives than women of high SES. Health inequalities arise from individual factors and the structural characteristics of the environment. Lifestyle behaviours including the adoption of a healthy diet and participating in physical activity can prevent or delay the onset of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Healthy lifestyle behaviours are not, however, solely a matter of individual agency, they are tied to the parameters from which health inequalities develop. The first part of this research investigated two lifestyle behaviours, diet and exercise, in a group of mothers with young children, living in a London (UK) Borough, and identified the barriers and facilitators for the adoption of healthy behaviours. In the second part, the mothers contributed ideas for potential public health interventions that would help them participate in physical activity and eat a healthy diet. A focus group with a second group of mothers (Slough, UK), provided context for the development of the ideas for interventions. An Interpretive methodology, influenced by Critical Theory was adopted for the qualitative research. A series of three in depth interviews with twenty participants, provided the data. Access to the groups of mothers was gained through volunteering with a national charity and regular visits to Children’s Centres. A thematic analysis identified four key themes that influenced lifestyle behaviours: the conflicted mother; concerns about the body; experience of health; and external contextual factors. Four ideas for potential public interventions were discussed with the study group: self-help group; support for all the family; volunteers in the home; and changes to the environment. The research provides important pointers for the development of public health interventions to support low SES mothers, particularly the need for practical support which takes into account the strong Ethic of Care in this group.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
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Dept of Life Sciences Theses

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