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Social Support and Companionship Among Active African American Women

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Objective : To examine the role of physical activity (PA) companions in supporting PA participation among African American women.

Methods : Data were collected through in-depth interviews and focus groups. Fifteen physically active African American women participated in the study. Grounded theory data analysis techniques were used to develop a taxonomy depicting roles of PA companions for African American women.

Results : PA companions functioned in 4 different roles: motivational, social, facilitative, and instructional. Supportive behaviors associated with each role were also elucidated.

Conclusions : These findings provide an understanding for the function of companions in sustaining active lifestyle that can be used to inform intervention development.

Keywords: African Americans; physical activity; qualitative research; social support; women

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, College of Health Sciences, Center for Urban Population Health, Milwaukee, WI.

Publication date: November 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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