How parents process child health and nutrition information: A grounded theory model

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The aim of the present study was to investigate low-income parents' experiences receiving, making meaning of, and applying sociocultural messages about childhood health and nutrition. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents from 16 low-income Early Head Start families. Verbatim interview transcripts, observations, field notes, documentary evidence, and follow-up participant checks were used during grounded theory analysis of the data. Data yielded a potential theoretical model of parental movement toward action involving (a) the culture and context influencing parents, (b) parents' sources of social and cultural messages, (c) parental values and engagement, (d) parental motivation for action, (e) intervening conditions impacting motivation and application, and (f) parent action taken on the individual and social levels. Parent characteristics greatly impacted the ways in which parents understood and applied health and nutrition information. Among other implications, it is recommended that educators and providers focus on a parent's beliefs, values, and cultural preferences regarding food and health behaviors as well as his/her personal/family definition of “health” when framing recommendations and developing interventions.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Prevention
  • Parents
  • Preschool child
  • Grounded theory


  • Psychology

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