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Physical Activity and Nutrition among Immigrant and Refugee Women: A Community-Based Participatory Research Approach

Published:December 12, 2011DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.whi.2011.10.002

      Abstract

      Background

      Immigrant and refugee populations arrive to the U.S. healthier than the general population, but the longer they reside, the more they approximate the cardiovascular risk profiles of the country. Among women, these declines are partly mediated by less physical activity and lower dietary quality upon immigration. Given the complex forces that influence these behaviors, a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach is appropriate. Therefore, a socioculturally responsive physical activity and nutrition program was created with and for immigrant and refugee women in Rochester, Minnesota, through a CBPR approach.

      Methods

      Focus groups informed program content and revealed principles for designing the sessions. A 6-week program with two, 90-minute classes per week was conducted among 45 women (Hispanic, Somali, Cambodian, and non-immigrant African American). Average attendance was 22.5 women per class; 34 women completed the evaluation.

      Results

      Evaluation revealed high acceptability (average overall score of 4.85 out of 5 on the Physical Activity Class Satisfaction Questionnaire). After the intervention, participants were more likely to exercise regularly (p ≤ .001). They reported higher health-related quality of life (p ≤ .001) and self-efficacy for diet (p = .36) and exercise (p = .10). Likewise, there were trends for weight loss (87 vs 83.4 kg; p = .65), decreased waist circumference (99.6 vs 95.5 cm; p = .35), and lower blood pressure (125/80 vs 122/76 mm/Hg; p = .27).

      Conclusion

      A CBPR approach to design and implement a socioculturally responsive fitness program was highly acceptable to immigrant and refugee women and demonstrated promising outcomes. Further testing of physical activity and nutrition interventions that arise organically from target communities are needed.
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      Biography

      Mark L. Wieland, MD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Primary Care Internal Medicine at Mayo Clinic, Rochester. He is a primary care physician whose work focuses on community-based participatory research with immigrant and refugee populations.

      Biography

      Jennifer A. Weis, RN, MS, is a registered nurse at the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities. Her work is focused on health literacy and community-based participatory research.

      Biography

      Tiffany Palmer, BA, is a research assistant at Olmsted Medical Center, Rochester. Her work is focused on fostering community–academic collaborations through community-based participatory research.

      Biography

      Miriam Goodson, MS, is a community liaison for the Alliance of Chicanos, Hispanics, and Latin Americans in Rochester, Minnesota. Her work is focused on community advocacy and health equity.

      Biography

      Sheena Loth, BA, is a community liaison for the Rochester Cambodian community. Her work is focused on community advocacy and health equity.

      Biography

      Fatuma Omer, BS, is a community liaison for the Somali community and the Multicultural Learning Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Her work is focused on community advocacy, mentorship, and health equity.

      Biography

      Adeline Abbenyi, BS, is a fitness specialist at the Rochester Area Family YMCA. Her work is focused on addressing barriers to physical activity among immigrant and refugee women.

      Biography

      Karen Krucker, RN, is a registered nurse at the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities. She is also a fitness specialist whose work in this area is focused on addressing barriers to physical activity among immigrant and refugee women.

      Biography

      Kim Edens, MS, RD, is a research dietician at the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities. Her work is focused on dietary assessment, research, and counseling. For this project, she is focused on addressing barriers to healthy nutrition among immigrant and refugee women.

      Biography

      Irene G. Sia, MD, MSc, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota. She is a physician whose work focuses on community-based participatory research with immigrant and refugee populations.