238477 Use of the phenomenological approach to qualitative interviewing to explore the experiences of physical activity among youth

Monday, October 31, 2011

Richard W. Christiana Jr., MA , College of Public Health, Health Promotion and Behavior Department, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Marsha Davis, PhD , Department of Health Promotion and Behavior, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Melissa Freeman, PhD , College of Education, Department of Lifelong Education, Administration, & Policy, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
BACKGROUND: Despite the increasing efforts of public health professionals, the levels of physical activity (PA) among youth in the United States are low. Research has provided strong evidence that the early development of adequate PA habits during childhood is associated with an increased likelihood of engaging in regular PA during adulthood. Currently it is unclear what strategies are effective at increasing youths' PA levels. CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK: Phenomenology is concerned with understanding phenomena as they are experienced by individuals. METHODS: A thorough review of the literature utilizing phenomenology was conducted using the CABDirect, ERIC, MEDLINE, and PsycINFO databases to discover the methods employed and the common themes found. RESULTS: Four studies were found that used phenomenological methods. All of the studies utilized individual semi-structured interviews. Common themes included engaging in PA to maintain social status and friendships with peers as well as decisions to not engage in PA to avoid physical awkwardness, teasing, and social humiliation. CONCLUSIONS: The results from these studies are important for public health practitioners and physical education teachers in promoting PA in youth. It is important that programs and interventions account for the social factors that affect youths' engagement in PA. The data gleaned from phenomenological interviewing allows for richer description of the social, emotional, and physical contexts in which PA is performed. The result of this rich data is a deeper understanding of how youth interpret their experiences of PA and the factors that affect their decisions and motivations to engage in PA.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1) Discuss the use of phenomenology in qualitative interviewing within the field of public health. 2) Explain the benefits of phenomenological interviewing to understand engagement and participation in a health behavior. 3) Formulate a research design using phenomenological interviewing.

Keywords: Youth, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have an extensive educational background in qualitative research techniques and am currently working on a dissertation that involves phenomenological interviewing as part of my work towards a doctoral degree in health promotion and behavior.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.