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Keywords:

  • health behavior;
  • Hispanic Americans;
  • low income;
  • rural population;
  • social environment

ABSTRACT Objectives: Rural populations and individuals with low incomes are less likely than the general population to achieve recommended levels of physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption. The purpose of this study was to describe the perspectives of low-income adults in 2 rural Wisconsin counties on the factors that influence physical activity and healthy eating.

Design and Sample: A qualitative descriptive study was conducted using 4 focus groups: 2 in English and 2 in Spanish. A convenience sample (N=20) was recruited.

Measures: Focus group questions and data analysis were based on an ecological framework. A team of 3 researchers performed content analysis of focus group transcripts.

Results: Participants reported individual, social, and community influences on health behaviors. Individual barriers included lack of motivation and lack of knowledge. Participants described the importance of family, friends, and the community social climate for health behaviors. Latinos emphasized the need for resources such as community gardens and public spaces for physical activity, while non-Latinos recommended community education related to healthy eating.

Conclusions: The results suggest that relevant health promotion strategies in rural, low-income populations include multilevel approaches, the development of schools as health promotion resources, and strategies to build social connections among community residents.