Nursing Publications


Perceived Facilitators of and Barriers to Healthful Eating among University Students

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Publication Date

Summer 2010


Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research





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Purpose: Photovoice, an innovative qualitative research method in health care, has not been used to its full potential in nutrition/dietetics. We explored the use of Photovoice to determine perceived facilitators of and barriers to healthful eating among university students.

Methods: The study included 28 students enrolled in a 2008 introductory nutrition class. The students participated in a camera orientation session to review ethics and privacy issues. They took photographs and selected two for discussion in a focus group moderated by a graduate student who used a semi-structured facilitation guide. Researchers coded the transcripts, analyzed the pictures and students' written comments about the project, and ensured data trustworthiness through credibility, dependability, confirmability, and transferability of data and methods.

Results: Six major themes emerged as facilitators and/or barriers: environment, nutrition knowledge, convenience foods, time, media influence, and food cost. More than one-third of the students thought the study "stimulated their critical thinking." They felt more empowered in sharing their perceptions and "getting their voices heard."

Conclusions: Photovoice was a useful, "motivating," and "engaging" method for research on nutrition knowledge and dietary patterns of university students. Registered dietitians and other health professionals may benefit from the use of the Photovoice method when they are working with students.

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