Perceptions of weight -related health in African American families: A photovoice study
In this qualitative study a phenomenological approach was used to explore the lived experiences and perceptions of weight-related health in African American families with an overweight or obese child. The goal of this study was to provide a forum for African American families to voice their experiences in order to highlight areas of influence on their weight-related health as well as their preferences for weight-related programs. Six African American families with a child diagnosed as overweight or obese (i.e. BMI equal to or greater than the 85th percentile) were interviewed with a total of 18 participants. All families completed a demographic questionnaire and were guided to use cameras to photograph factors relevant to their weight-related health using the Photovoice methodology (Wang & Burris, 1997).
The theoretical framework for the study was based on human ecological and social constructionist theories. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews and each family provided visual data. Interview questions were designed to capture stories of family experiences with weight-related health in addition to family perceptions of weight-related programs. Family photographs were used to support and clarify personal stories about weight-related health, hence allowing for triangulation with qualitative interviews.
Data analysis revealed several key findings relative to weight-related health experiences in African American families. First, families found health professionals, such as physicians, to be helpful in their understanding of weight-related health. Second, family was viewed as a strong source of support for living a healthy lifestyle. Third, weight-related health programs were seen as valuable because they provided a sense of normalcy and community support. Lastly, challenges to following weight-related health recommendations were perceived as being due to limited income.
This study has implications for professionals working with African American families who seek obesity treatment. The findings of this study suggest that it is essential for family therapists to have cultural competence training in order to gain knowledge and skills to effectively work with African American families. In addition, health care providers, such as physicians and program facilitators, are encouraged to collaboratively work with African American families in order to develop interventions that are both relevant and effective.
Individual & family studies;
Families & family life
0573: Public health
0628: Individual & family studies