Akua Smith


The focus of this study was Sub Saharan African women living in the U.S. and their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes about good health and nutrition and how their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes affect their behaviors and the behaviors of their children. Social Cognitive Theory was selected as the best fit behavioral model and was utilized in this study. The research method used for this study was traditional focus groups, which provide a forum for both researcher and participant to expound on the study subject matter through guided discussion, combined with photo voice, a visual elicitation method. In this study the researcher incorporated two focus groups, the first with a list of guided open ended questions on the predetermined topics and the second utilizing photo voice, a method that uses pictures to visually document participants. Three major overlapping themes emerge as a result of the focus group discussions and photo voice. The dominant theme and chief component of good health and nutrition according to the participants is faith and/or having a connection to God. The second theme is connectedness to other people, also described as social gathering. The third major theme and component to good health and nutrition according to all of the participants is physical wellbeing, which includes such things as eating well, having a balanced diet, exercise and hygiene. The overarching results of the study show that the participants' knowledge, attitudes and beliefs affect their behaviors and that of their children, usually encouraging good health and nutrition or at least the desire towards good health and nutrition. Although the participants reported some behavioral deviation from Kenyan/Sub Saharan African culture, the participants held strong ties to the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of Kenya, ultimately feeling that they were superior to the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs in U.S. culture. With respect to acculturation the participants have adopted some of the ways of the dominant culture, thus acculturating. The changes in health behaviors associated with acculturation to western society for this group included poorer diet and less physical activity, especially in the second generation.

Date of publication

Spring 5-7-2012

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