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How a healthy population acquires exercise and nutrition information: A mixed methods study

Sally Jean Spanhake Hillis, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


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, the revised 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.

Subject Area

Health sciences|Nutrition|Behavioral Sciences

Recommended Citation

Hillis, Sally Jean Spanhake, "How a healthy population acquires exercise and nutrition information: A mixed methods study" (2015). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3738351.