An exploration of beliefs and attitudes regarding healthy lifestyle behaviour in an urban population in The Netherlands: Results from a focus group study in a community-based prevention project

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Abstract

Background: The positive effects of lifestyle intervention programmes might be enhanced when targeted to the health-related behaviour of the users. This study explores the beliefs and attitudes regarding a healthy lifestyle, the influences on lifestyle behavioural change and the needs to support a healthy lifestyle in the local community, during an integrated community-based prevention project in newly developed urban area in the Netherlands. Methods: Three focus groups were conducted with urban residents aged 45–70 (n = 28). Thematic qualitative analysis was applied to verbatim transcripts to identify emerging themes. Results: The following themes were identified: beliefs to healthy behaviour, responsibility for health, perceived behavioural control, external influences on behavioural change and needs in the local community. Within these themes, personal responsibility for health and the influence of the social and physical environment emerged to be important for health and lifestyle. The participants expressed the need for clearly organized health and lifestyle facilities, a personalized approach and an easily accessible health risk assessment to support lifestyle behavioural change in the community. Conclusion: In our study, urban residents experienced a strong influence of the social and physical environment to their lifestyle behaviour. This finding supports an integrated approach for preventive health services in this population.

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