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Diabetes Educ. 2012 Mar-Apr;38(2):229-35. doi: 10.1177/0145721712437558.

Physical activity-related experiences, counseling expectations, personal responsibility, and altruism among urban African American women with type 2 diabetes.

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  • 1Stephania T. Miller, Department of Surgery, Meharry Medical College, 1005 D.B. Todd Blvd, Nashville, TN 37208, USA.



The purpose of this study was to explore physical activity-related experiences, perceptions, and counseling expectations among urban, underactive, African American women with type 2 diabetes.


Participants were recruited via flyers and endocrinologist referral. A professional, African American female moderator led 2 focus groups among 11 participants. Focus groups were conducted in a video- and audio-equipped focus group room in the evening hours. Using a content-based, stepped analytic approach, 2 raters independently analyzed data and collaborated to compare results and finalize themes.


Competing priorities and lack of motivation were perceived as significant barriers to physical activity. Physical activity-related counseling expectations (ie, physician encouragement) and experiences (physician advising) were inconsistent. Participants expressed a high degree of physical activity-related health responsibility. Altruistic intentions were high relative to helping others incorporate healthful lifestyle changes.


When counseling women about physical activity, diabetes educators should acknowledge and provide support and resources to help women incorporate more physical activity into their regular routines and enhance motivation for physical activity. Educators should also couple physical activity-related advice with encouragement and support. Because of high levels of altruism, educators should consider implementing group- and/or peer-based physical activity interventions in this patient group.

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