DOI: 10.51250/jheal.v2i1.30; PMCID: PMC9531899
The purpose of the current study is to understand how the early portion of COVID-19 pandemic impacted the health behaviors of rural families participating in a healthy lifestyles intervention. Caregivers of rural children participating in a healthy lifestyles intervention were invited to participate in a structured interview regarding how the COVID-19 pandemic affected their family and family health behaviors. Interviews were transcribed and the research team conducted a rigorous inductive thematic analysis. Structured qualitative interviews with caregivers (n=30) resulted in 5 saturated themes: (a) caregivers reported new or exacerbated mental health concerns and stress among family members, largely due to social isolation and external stressors, (b) caregivers reported feeling out of control of positive health behaviors for themselves and their children, (c) families reported variability in how they handled reductions in schedule demands, ranging from filling time with positive activities to negative behaviors such as snacking, (d) families continuously re-adjusted their approach to parenting, routines, and health behaviors due to internal and external factors, (e) families ate foods that were accessible and convenient, which impacted the health of the family diet. Despite being asked primarily about lifestyle behavior changes, families reported concerns around mental health. Implications are that professionals working with rural children and families, even those without mental health training, may be called upon to help address these concerns especially in these underserved, rural families.
J Healthy Eat Act Living
SARS-CoV2; health behaviors; mental health; physical activity; qualitative
England KM, Forseth B, Bangash M, et al. The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Healthy Lifestyles in Rural Families. J Healthy Eat Act Living. 2022;2(1):23-31. doi:10.51250/jheal.v2i1.30