Physical Activity Barriers and Facilitators Among US Pacific Islanders and the Feasibility of Using Mobile Technologies for Intervention: A Focus Group Study With Tongan Americans

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Pacific Islanders experience an elevated risk of health conditions such as obesity and diabetes, which are related to a lack of physical activity (PA). However, little attention has been paid to understanding the determinants of PA and promoting PA among this racial/ethnic group in the United States. Methods: We conducted focus group discussions with Tongan Americans, one of the major Pacific Islander groups in the United States, to gain a better understanding of their PA participation patterns, their barriers and facilitators, their attitudes toward PA, and their perceptions of how mobile technologies such as smartphones could help increase their PA levels. Results: Results indicate that although the participants understand the various benefits of PA, they do not engage in much leisure-time PA for exercise purposes. A lack of time is cited as an important reason for insufficient PA participation. In addition, most participants report familiarity with smartphones, positive views of mobile technology, and interest in using smartphones to measure and promote PA. Conclusion: Multiple barriers were related with the low level of PA among Tongan Americans. Mobile technology is a promising way of enhancing PA among Tongan Americans and potentially other Pacific Islander subgroups. Culturally tailored strategies could significantly enhance the effectiveness of PA intervention.

Wan and Nicolosi are with the Dept of Geography, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT. Wen is with the Dept of Sociology, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT. Fan is with the Dept of Family and Consumer Studies, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT. Tavake-Pasi is with the National Tongan American Society, Salt Lake City, UT. McCormick and Elliott are with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, The University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.

Wan (neng.wan@utah.edu) is corresponding author.
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