Previous experiences and emotional baggage as barriers to lifestyle change - a qualitative study of Norwegian Healthy Life Centre participants Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Changing lifestyle is challenging and difficult. The Norwegian Directorate of Health recommends that all municipalities establish Healthy Life Centres targeted to people with lifestyle issues. Little is known about the background, experiences and reflections of participants. More information is needed about participants to shape effective lifestyle interventions with lasting effect. This study explores how participants in a lifestyle intervention programme describe previous life experiences in relation to changing lifestyle.Semi-structured qualitative in-depth interviews were performed with 23 participants (16 women and 7 men) aged 18 - 70 years. The data were analysed using systematic text condensation searching for issues describing participants' responses, and looking for the essence, aiming to share the basis of life-world experiences as valid knowledge.Participants identified two main themes: being stuck in old habits, and being burdened with emotional baggage from their previous negative experiences. Participants expressed a wish to change their lifestyles, but were unable to act in accordance with the health knowledge they possessed. Previous experiences with lifestyle change kept them from initiating attempts without professional assistance. Participants also described being burdened by an emotional baggage with problems from childhood and/or with family, work and social life issues. Respondents said that they felt that emotional baggage was an important explanation for why they were stuck in old habits and that conversely, being stuck in old habits added load to their already emotional baggage and made it heavier.Behavioural change can be hard to perform as psychological distress from life baggage can influence the ability to change. The study participants' experience of being stuck in old habits and having substantial emotional baggage raises questions as to whether or not Healthy Life Centres are able to help participants who need to make a lifestyle change.

publication date

  • 2015