Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


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A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Kaye Stanek Krogstrand. Lincoln, Nebraska: July 2011

Copyright 2011 Kayte Tranel


An increased risk of lifestyle-related conditions (hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer) is associated with overweight and obesity, which affect approximately two in three American adults (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2009). Worksite health promotion programming (WHPP) may be effective for reducing disease risk. Reaching adults in the worksite seems logical considering most spend approximately 40 hours each week in that setting. WHPP is linked to improved effectiveness for promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors, but often struggles with low participation and high attrition rates. Research regarding barriers to WHPP and physical activity is available, but information to aid development of more comprehensive worksite programming, including nutrition and WHPP in underserved rural areas, is lacking. Developing WHPP on perceived benefits and barriers (constructs of the Health Belief Model) and the Stages of Change (from the Transtheoretical Model) can help practitioners tailor programs toward moving participants toward the action and maintenance stages. A survey to assess perceived benefits and perceived barriers to regular physical activity and healthful eating habits as well as qualitative questions to assess placement on the Stage of Change was administered to employees of a critical access hospital in a rural community. Results showed that perceived benefits and perceived barriers were correlated significantly (p<.05, r = .270), indicating that as a greater number of benefits to participating in regular physical activity and healthful eating habits were mentioned, they also identified a greater number of barriers. In addition, more barriers to healthful eating correlated significantly to more barriers identified for engaging in regular physical activity (p<.05, r = .312). Both barriers to regular physical activity and healthful eating habits were negatively correlated to placement on the Stages of Change continuum, indicating that more identified barriers corresponds to precontemplative, contemplative and preparatory behaviors, rather than action and maintenance of desired behaviors. Further research focusing on determining factors that help individuals overcome perceived barriers and which psychosocial variables are associated with identifying more perceived benefits to engaging in physical activity and healthful eating may help improve the effectiveness of WHPP.

Advisor: Kaye Stanek Krogstrand