Diet and physical activity behaviour in nurses: A qualitative study

Torquati, Luciana, Kolbe-Alexander, Tracy, Pavey, Toby, Persson, Christina, & Leveritt, Michael (2016) Diet and physical activity behaviour in nurses: A qualitative study. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education. (In Press)

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Issue addressed

  • Previous research has shown that approximately 60% of nurses in Australia are overweight or obese, insufficiently active and have an unhealthy diet. The aim of this study was to gain an understanding of nurses’ determinants contributing to these behaviours. This will inform a needs assessment for a future workplace health promotion program (WHPP) in this group.


  • Four focus group discussions (n = 17) were conducted with a convenience sample of nurses aged 25–59 years from three hospitals in the Brisbane metropolitan area. Questions addressed barriers and motivation towards diet and physical activity (PA), and suggestions for future WHPP. Data were analysed with Nvivo10 following a thematic analysis with a realistic approach using Self-determination theory as a framework.


  • Work environment was the main barrier for healthy diet behaviours. Long working hours and lack of breaks challenged nurses’ self-control and self-regulation when making dietary choices. Fatigue was the main barrier for PA. However, relaxation, feeling energised before work and better sleep after working night shifts motivated nurses to do PA. Social environment at work seemed to be an effective external motivation to encourage healthy diet and regular PA. Goal-setting, self-monitoring and social support at work were identified as potential WHHP strategies.


  • The workplace and job demands negatively impacts nurses’ lifestyle behaviours. Future interventions should include social support from colleagues, which could motivate nurses to make healthier food choices at work and be more active outside work.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 95436
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1080/14635240.2016.1169943
ISSN: 2164-9545
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Deposited On: 09 May 2016 23:13
Last Modified: 20 Jun 2016 23:42

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