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First-generation Ethiopian immigrants and beliefs about physical activity

Brook T. Alemu (School of Health Sciences, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, North Carolina, USA)
Kristy L. Carlisle (Department of Counseling and Human Services, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA)
Sara N. Abate (College of Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care

ISSN: 1747-9894

Article publication date: 22 March 2021

Issue publication date: 1 June 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

While several studies have examined the attitudes, perceptions and beliefs of physical activity in different immigrant groups, little is known in this area among the first-generation Ethiopian immigrant population who lives in the USA. The purpose of this paper is to explore the behavioral, normative and control beliefs of physical activity among first-generation Ethiopian immigrants living in the DC-Metro area.

Design/methodology/approach

The study used semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and unobtrusive observation. Three structural themes and six textural themes were identified from the three forms of data collections. Qualitative data analysis including topics, categories and pattern analysis were conducted using phenomenological techniques.

Findings

Findings highlighted similarities to the theory of planned behavior with regard to attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioral control. Consistent with the literature, several salient behavioral determinants of physical activity that could affect participants’ decision-making were identified in the current pilot study. Increased longevity, mental well-being, improved sleep and improved metabolism were listed as the most common benefits of physical activity. Lack of time, family responsibility, neighborhood safety, location of the gym, lack of awareness and social and economic stressors were the major barriers to engage in physical activity. Implications for service providers and future research are discussed.

Practical implications

This study supported the need for future research into the social aspects of physical activity, as well as barriers to physical activity, including time, family responsibility, culture, income and neighborhood safety.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study exploring the behavioral, normative and control beliefs of physical activity among first-generation Ethiopian immigrants. To understand the beliefs, desires and barriers to physical activity in this population subgroup, the authors examined the behavioral, normative and control beliefs of regular moderate-intensity physical activity using the theory of planned behavior as a conceptual framework. As health education researchers, it is their responsibility to develop theory-driven policies and interventions to promote a healthy lifestyle among these underserved populations.

Keywords

Citation

Alemu, B.T., Carlisle, K.L. and Abate, S.N. (2021), "First-generation Ethiopian immigrants and beliefs about physical activity", International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 196-207. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-02-2019-0024

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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