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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Physical activity behaviours of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) women living in Australia: a qualitative study of socio-cultural influences

Cristina M Caperchione, Gregory S Kolt, Rebeka Tennent, W Kerry Mummery
BMC Public Health 2011, 11: 26
21223595

BACKGROUND: Australia continues to witness rising levels of immigration by individuals from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) origins. With this rapidly growing diverse population, Australia faces a number of population health challenges. In particular, CALD women have been shown to be at an increased risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and poor mental health. Despite the high risk of these diseases, women from CALD groups are less likely to be proactive in accessing health care or undertaking preventative behaviours, such as physical activity participation. The purpose of this study was to examine the socio-cultural influences on the physical activity behaviours of CALD women living in Australia by identifying the barriers, constraints and possible enablers to physical activity participation for this population.

METHODS: Twelve focus group sessions were undertaken with CALD women (N = 110) from Bosnian, Arabic speaking, Filipino and Sudanese communities in three regions: New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. In a semi-structured, open table discussion, participants were encouraged to share their opinions, perceptions and beliefs regarding socio-cultural influences on their physical activity behaviours. Common and ethnic-specific themes emerged from the discussions.

RESULTS: Common themes included: knowledge of physical activity, differing physical activity levels, and the effects of psychological and socio-cultural factors, environmental factors, and perceptions of ill-health and injury, on physical activity behaviours. Ethnic-specific themes indicated that post-war trauma, religious beliefs and obligations, socio-economic status, social isolation and the acceptance of traditional cultural activities, greatly influenced the physical activity behaviours of Bosnian, Arabic speaking, Filipino and Sudanese women living in communities throughout Australia.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that attitudes and understandings of health and wellbeing are complex, and have a strong socio-cultural influence. The findings of the present study can be used not only to inform further health promotion initiatives, but also as a platform for further research with consumers of these services and with those who deliver such services.

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