IDENTIFYING BARRIERS AND FACILITATORS OF LEISURE TIME PHYSICAL ACTIVITY THROUGH THE EXPERIENCES OF 16-18 YEAR OLD AFRICAN AMERICAN/BLACK GIRLS: A GROUNDED THEORY STUDY
Gold, Robert S
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Among older adolescent African American/Black girls, obesity rates continue to rise between the ninth and 12th grades, whereas among white females, rates decline. Contributing to these high rates is the lack of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA) among youth. Nationwide, 95% of older adolescents (ages 16-18) are not meeting federal guidelines for physical activity. Older adolescent African American/Black girls are less likely to report LTPA when compared to their peers. Current approaches are not adequately addressing reduced LTPA among African American/Black older adolescent girls, requiring a return to the population affected to better understand this problem. To address this need, the current grounded theory dissertation study aimed to develop a grounded theory model of barriers and facilitators to LTPA among older adolescent African American/Black girls. Enrolled in the study were 16 African American/Black girls (N=16) aged 16-18 (M=16.7) years. Nine participants were classified as exercisers and seven as non-exercisers. All participants attended high school in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Each participant took part in an in-depth individual qualitative interview, conducted at a private, quiet location of their choice. Using constructivist grounded theory methods (CGT), analysis of the interview data occurred across four phases: open, focused, axial, and theoretical coding. CGT analysis resulted in a behavioral process theory explaining barriers and facilitators of LTPA among African American/Black older adolescent girls, grounded in youths’ own experiences. The theory, anchored by the core category of Choosing to Engage in LTPA, has five related categories: Being Autonomously Motivated, Perceiving Control Over Time, Knowing About Exercise, Experiencing the Influence of Others, and Receiving Messages About One’s Body. Each theoretical category includes multiple properties and dimensions, such as understanding the benefits of LTPA outside of weight loss, believing exercise is fun, and having confidence in the ability to exercise. Multiple influences across family, community, and societal systems shaped participants’ attitudes and beliefs. The results of this study contribute to a growing body of research on physical activity among older adolescents. These findings can inform the development and testing of feasibility in an afterschool LTPA intervention, as well as school physical education curriculum and policy.