Diet and Physical Activity Behaviors of Families Receiving Maternal and Child Health Services: The Perspective of the Home Visitor


home visitation services
physical activity
maternal nutrition
social networks


Women and children enrolled in federally funded home visitation services are at an increased risk for unhealthy diet and physical activity patterns. Home visitors have a privileged relationship with their clients and hold a unique perspective of the multilevel influences surrounding these behaviors. This study explored the question: “What are the home visitors’ perspectives and experiences with their families’ diet and physical activity behaviors?”. Home visitors enrolled in a larger trial were invited to participate in focus group sessions (n=13). Topics covered their clients’ constraints and capacity building opportunities for healthful diet and activity practices. Reflexive thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. The home visitors discussed key influences of diet and activity, and three overarching themes were identified: (1) Acute periods of crises and mental health issues; (2) The role of the mother within the family; and (3) Support and barriers within mothers’ broader social network. The themes identified in this study highlight the complex, multidimensional influences on the dietary and physical activity patterns of these families, and pinpoint key areas of opportunity for intervention.


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