Online Program

'we're changing our ways": Women as primary caregivers and adaptations of food and physical activity related health behaviors in semi-rural and rural American Indian/Alaska Native households

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 9:30 a.m. - 9:50 a.m.

Preety Gadhoke, PhD, MPH, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Albuquerque, NM
This paper conceptualizes women as primary caregivers as driving forces of the adaptation of food and physical activity related health behaviors in households facing socioeconomic and environmental challenges in semi-rural and rural communities in the US. We conducted a formative study in four American Indian/Alaska Native communities in the Southwest and the Upper Midwest U.S between April 2010 and July 2011. Two hundred and fifty six (256) participants, majority (90%) women and girls, shared narratives about facilitators and barriers of their adaptive health behaviors through semi-structured in-depth interviews, focus groups, household group interviews, and community workshops. Interviews were recorded using handwritten notes and audio recordings, transcribed, and open-coded using thematic content analysis. Our data reveals three key themes. As primary caregivers, women are aware of the paradox of modernity: living in increasingly obesogenic environments promoting the consumption of ‘convenience foods' and sedentary lifestyles, while facing greater needs to prevent their children from premature obesity and diabetes. Women are setting an intention and making a conscientious effort for healthier food choices for their households on a tight budget and encouraging physical activities on limited time and complex working schedules and familial caregiving responsibilities. Young girls are socialized as informal caregivers and, in turn, have positive influence on household adults for health behavior change. Our results underscore the need and offer recommendations for family-centered obesity interventions across similarly disadvantaged, ethnic populations in the US and developing countries where households face a rising need for health behavior adaptations for their members' long-term well-being.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how women are redefining and co-constructing their caregiving roles in households while balancing responsibilities as productive members of the workforce. Explain, from women's own voices, what are the facilitators and barriers of leading their households to adapt towards healthier food and physical activity behaviors. Demonstrate the application of study findings for family-focused food and physical activity interventions for similarly disadvantaged populations across the US and developing countries facing a nutrition transition.

Keyword(s): Women's Health, Caregivers

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a student co-investigator and project coordinator on the OPREVENT project focusing upon obesity and diabetes prevention and developing and implementing family-based interventions for American Indian populations.
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.