Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Professor Fayrene Hamouz

Date of this Version

Fall 11-11-2015

Document Type



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Human Sciences (Nutrition and Health Sciences), Under the Supervision of Professor Fayrene Hamouz. Lincoln, Nebraska: November, 2015

Copyright © 2015 Sally Jean Spanhake Hillis


Faced with an overwhelming amount of available sources and different perspectives, researchers in the field of Nutrition and Health Sciences continually strive to identify key factors that shape a healthy lifestyle. Employing an exploratory sequential mixed methods design, phase one of this research utilized a constructivist grounded theory approach to develop a model explaining the process by which healthy individuals acquire nutrition and exercise information. Interested is studying a population identified by good nutrition and daily exercise, the researcher set the participant criteria to include daily consumption of 2-3 balanced meals, 45-60 minutes daily moderate-intensity exercise, and a normal BMI. To offer a more complete understanding of this process, this theoretical model rests on the characterlogical traits and life experiences of the participants (N=8) in seeking meaningful and reliable sources guiding their challenge-solving skills and information-seeking behaviors. To test and elaborate upon the model, phase two integrates the qualitative findings into a new instrument, the Healthy Population Questionnaire (HPQ). Phase three commenced with the launching of the HPQ to a national sample (N=309) meeting the same criteria. Nine independent variables and one dependent variable were constructed from the survey data. The independent variables were mindfulness, discipline, self-esteem, happiness, good nutrition, daily exercise, food knowledge, learned behaviors, and challenge solving/cooking skills. The dependent variable was sources of nutrition and exercise information. Employing exploratory factor analysis using SPSS, a path analysis was developed to represent the theoretical model from the qualitative phase. Using Pearson’s correlation, the characterlogical traits of mindfulness, discipline, self-esteem and happiness were significantly associated with decision-making, r(307)=.545, p<.001. Further, significant correlations were found between decision-making and resources of nutrition and exercise information r(307)=.587, p<.001, as well as good nutrition-daily exercise and sources of nutrition and exercise information r(307)=.321, p<.001. The information presented in this study advances our understanding of not only the characterlogical traits, process and sources of nutrition and exercise seeking information for a healthy population, but the complexity, interconnectedness, and relationships of these concepts.

Advisor: Fayrene Hamouz