Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Nursing

Dissertation Committee

Jane M. Georges, PhD, RN; Louise M. Rauckhorst, EdD, RN; Dorothy Crummy, PhD, RN


elderly, Ethnography, Gerontology, Latin Americans, middle age, nursing, physical activity, women


Ethnographic methodology was used to explore the factors that influence middle-aged and older Latin American women's participation in physical activity. Semi-structured interviews and field observations were used to elicit information from the twenty five Latin American women in this study sample. Perceptions of health, the health activities in which the women engage, and the factors that influenced their participation in physical activity comprised the three categories of responses. Facilitators and barriers were identified as the two primary groups and were further sorted into intrinsic or extrinsic factors. A sense of self, decreased feelings of stress, wellbeing, managing chronic disease, the desire to lose weight, and a personal health event comprised the intrinsic subcategory. Extrinsic facilitators identified were social support, music, health information, family history, and accessibility. Barriers (intrinsic) were physical illness or disability, pain, fatigue, lack of self motivation, worry, and embarrassment, whereas the extrinsic barrier group included role demands, such as childcare and household tasks, time limitations, environment, which included weather, and unsafe neighborhoods, inaccessible programs, lack of social support, and limited knowledge of risk factors/disease management. Conclusions of this study were that the Latin American women in spite of their multiple role demands and other barriers did participate in health promotion behaviors, such as physical activity. This study sample of Latin American women identified salient facilitators to participation in physical activity which warrant further qualitative exploration. This study adds to the small but growing body of knowledge of Latin American women's health practices and offers opportunities for the development of culturally sensitive interventions that would promote regular physical activity in this population.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons