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LaVela SL, Ehrlich-Jones LS, Jones K, Bartle B, Heinemann AW. What Are Personal Meanings of Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Individuals Living With Spinal Cord Injury? A Qualitative Exploration. Topics in spinal cord injury rehabilitation. 2021 Nov 17; 27(4):68-78.
To explore the personal meanings of healthy eating and physical activity among individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI) and the information and resources they find beneficial. We conducted in-depth semistructured individual interviews to understand the personal meanings of healthy eating and physical activity among individuals with SCI. We completed a thematic analysis of qualitative data. Participants were 11 Veterans and 14 civilians, predominantly male, non-Hispanic White, and with paraplegia. Data were described across two categories, including the personal meaning of healthy eating and the personal meaning of physical activity/exercise. Individuals with SCI described their meaning of healthy eating around four themes: types of food, amounts/portions of food, conscious/mindful eating, and eating to enhance health. Individuals wanted information on tailored diets for individuals with paraplegia and tetraplegia and healthy foods that are easy to prepare by people with SCI. Their personal meaning of physical activity/exercise focused on four themes: types of physical activity and exercise, staying active, moving/movement, and differences from non-SCI. Desired information around physical activity included cardiovascular workouts that are effective and possible to do in a wheelchair so that people with SCI can burn enough of the calories they consume to lose or maintain weight. Results provide a better understanding of what healthy eating and physical activity mean to people with SCI and information they desire toward these goals, which can be used to guide patient-provider discussions, develop health promotion programs, and tailor interventions to capitalize on meaningful concepts and beliefs that facilitate healthy behaviors.