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Title:Exploring cultural perspectives of physical activity among transnational African immigrants
Author(s):Ibe-Lamberts, Kelechi D.
Director of Research:Schwingel, Andiara
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Schwingel, Andiara
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Alston, Reginald; Graber, Kim; Iwelunmor, Juliet
Department / Program:Kinesiology & Community Health
Discipline:Community Health
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
African immigrants
Physical Activity
Cultural health
Abstract:Background: The overall foreign born population is increasing significantly in the US. The African-born population represent fastest rising immigrant group in the US since the 2000s. Transnational African Immigrants (TAIs) are a subset of African immigrants with a unique ability to sustain multi-national ties. African Americans (AAs) and African Immigrants possess two distinct historical backgrounds that affect their respective cultural practices, yet African immigrants are often grouped into the same category in health research, not taking into account their different ethos and cultural identities. Their ethos and their cultural identities also influence the health behavior choices that they make such as participation in physical activity. Physical activity has the potential to improve health and well-being, and prevent or delay the onset of chronic disease and disabilities. Studies have shown that different factors can facilitate and/or to prevent physical activity in different population and age groups. However, there is a dearth in information regarding physical activity and its determinants within the Transnational African Immigrant population. Purpose: The objectives of this study were to explore: (1) TAIs understanding of the concept of PA; (2) TAIs interpretation of the socio-cultural contexts in which they chose (or chose not) to be physically active, and; (3) their visualization of PA opportunities and barriers in their respective communities. Methods: The study utilized the PEN-3 cultural model to support an inductive approach. A qualitative research design was conducted that involved a two-pronged interview process after completion of a demographic questionnaire. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 24 Transnational African Immigrants (11 males, 13 females), discussing physical activity followed by a photo-elicitation process where participants were presented photographs related to physical activity in order to evoke richer information. Questions were asked pertaining to their perceptions of their cultural beliefs and attitudes towards physical activity. Results: Three themes emerged from the analysis of photos and in-depth interviews: (1) We are not the same; (2) Physical activity is good, but…; (3) A culture of physical inactivity. Participants reported perceived factors such as cultural differences, lack of education, employment and transnational responsibilities that influence their choices in regards to physical activity participation. Participants also highlighted activities intertwined with their culture such as dancing as a form of physical activity that they prefer to engage in and find satisfying. Participants call for culturally tailored approaches to their community. Discussion: The findings of this study revealed the following: 1) The concept of transnational responsibilities factoring into time constraints for PA participation; 2) The socio-cultural differences between TAIs and AAs; 3) The importance of dancing within the TAI culture; and 4) The possible misconception of the causes of chronic diseases within the TAI community. Results of the study increase our understanding, and also add to the literature on African Immigrant health for the reason that it highlights the impact of transnational activities towards potential health choices. It can contribute in future developments and implementation of culturally competent initiatives to improve promotion of physical activity in this respective community. This study also elicits important information regarding the socio-cultural factors influencing physical activity behavior within the TAI community and how it can inform intra-racial interactions within the overall Black population, further proving that there is not a one-size-fit all approach to addressing health disparities within the Black population.  
Issue Date:2016-08-29
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Kelechi Ibe-Lamberts
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-03-01
Date Deposited:2016-12

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