11 pages/≈3025 words
A Healthy Professional Perspective (Dissertat. Methodology Sample)
Child weight management in early years in Blackburn and Darwen area: A healthy professional perspective.
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3.1Rationale for the qualitative research design.
Qualitative research methodology was considered appropriate for this study because it allowed the researcher to understand how the participants interpreted their life situations and experiences. As a guide, the study adopted the Empirical phenomenology approach as proposed by Marton (1986). This approach was preferred because it allowed the researcher to describe and decipher common themes as they emerged in the participantâ€™s description of their experiences instead of theorizing about it. Further to this, phenomenology with its emphasis on individualâ€™s actual experience and how that experience affect thought processes as concerns a particular phenomena a considered appropriate.
To this end, one-on-one, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions were used to explore the topic of childhood obesity. This approach allowed behavioral characteristics of the family and group dynamics to emerge, thereby providing an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of childhood obesity.
The study used a mixed method approach combining direct user observation, focus group discussions and interviewing methods, all these with a view of characterizing and understanding the dynamics of childhood obesity within the study areas. The justification for this approach is that it result in a better perception of the various dynamics of obesity and hence add insight and understanding that might have been missed if a single method was used. Such methods that involve the triangulation of data sources are the best for this kind of study. The fact that it utilizes qualitative and quantitative methods produces a more complete knowledge necessary to inform theory and practice and can also be used to increase generalizability.
The qualitative portion of this study attempted to examine the relationships between factors related to obesity in children in terms of how children and parents perceived obesity to be an issue in the areas under study. This mainly included family and physical factors that affect childrenâ€™s ability to eat healthy and also be active physically and possible solutions for enhanced awareness of childhood obesity.
This was done by conducting focus group discussions with various children involving different genders and age groups across the two areas. Focus group discussion and semi structured one-to-one interview was also carried out with the parents/caregivers to gain further insight into the issues under study. These methods were used in this research as a way to gain more in-depth data on the dynamics of obesity in the areas under study and also to generate some possible suggestions for policy implementation.
The study population consisted of 170 individuals from six participating schools. These included 140 students (80 females, 60 males) and 30 parents (all female). As the prevalence of obesity in children normally appears to be unequally distributed between population groups, the study therefore aimed to access families from a range of social circumstances. The study purposively selected six demographically diverse schools in Blackburn and Darwen areas and all agreed to participate. The schools selection criteria ensured that schools located in areas of high and low socio-economic deprivation and also located in urban and rural locations were included in the study. Children involved in the study were aged between 4-12 years.
Access to parents was facilitated by the various school principals. All of the schools the study engaged with already had established parent groups, and itâ€™s from among these that the sample was drawn. The study purposively selected female parents because mothers are more likely to be up to speed concerning the dietary trends of their children.
3.2.2Role of the researcher
The author was principal investigator (PI) of the research study and also the primary writer for this manuscript. The researcher oversaw the ethical considerations prior to, during, and after the study and made sure that they were carefully considered, and proper steps were taken to protect the rights of all participants involved in the study. The PI also had the responsibility of assigning a unique identifier to all data for the purposes of de-identification.
The PI engaged in participant observation throughout the study especially in the focus group discussions and this is one strategy that was used to enhance the validity of the study. The PI further maintained an audit of all activities that took place in the course of the study.
3.3.1Focus group interviews with children
Focus groups discussions are increasingly being used in research with children as children are generally comfortable and familiar with the process of discussing matters in groups.
The main purpose of the focus groups was to allow and also to enable the children to discuss and articulate their understandings, perceptions and experiences in relation to physical activity, exercise, play and sporting activities. Fourteen focus group discussions involved 60 boys and 80 girls aged between 4â€“12 years in six government/public schools. The schools were divided such that three were located in Blackburn and the other three in Darwen. In planning the focus groups, focus was on considering the effects of group dynamics, gender dynamics, peer pressure and development stages within the groups. Good focus group research practice with children as outlined by Morgan et al, (2002) was modified and incorporated into the discussion. This was further applied to group dynamics, sampling issues and planning and interpretation.
In this study several strategies were adopted to address the concerns normally arising as to whether focus groups are merely simplistic group conversations and also whether the interactive group aspect is always overlooked. The focus groups discussions were programmed to stimulate and generate interactive conversation and discussions with and between children rather than being just individual interviews within a group of people.
The participating schools, children and parents were all given child friendly information sheets and concise explanations of what the discussions with the children entailed. To create an informal environment, the discussions were held in areas adjacent to the childrenâ€™s classrooms, this also made it possible to elicit more interactive and animated discussions and contributions. The moderators had extensive experience working with children and were flexible enough to go with the flow of discussions within the groups, while appreciating the challenges and dynamics of working with groups of children and to understand the areas that the children were moving the discussions into. Various child activities were incorporated by the researches into the groups to help provide not only variety but also break barriers and create interest in order stimulate their thinking and discussion about the focus on physical activity and its association to people, places and spaces.
The focus groups comprised between 10 children per session, and each session lasted approximately 40 minutes. They were designed to be exploratory, and were structured around activities and accompanied with questions aimed at eliciting discussion. The Principal Investigator participated in the discussions as an observer. Because young children normally find it easier conversing and interacting with peers compared to adults, activities were hence structured to allow spontaneous discussion amongst the children, with the researcher acting as a facilitator and observer.
The first activity involved prioritizing five photographs of a showing a range of healthy and unhealthy foods, the second involved sorting seven photographs of active and sedentary, indoor and outdoor activities, and the third activity involved discussion around a picture of an overweight child playing netball. Photographs presented the best method to encourage discussion amongst children. This is because according to Thompson (1995), they have previously been shown to be an effective way of stimulating discussion among children. Each researcher kept a written record of the discussion of their focus groups including notation of children's responses, pertinent quotes and observations made.
To further improve the interactive nature of the focus groups discussions and make them more interesting for the children. They were invited to draw and deliberate a map depicting the social and physical environment where they are likely to engage in physical activity. This was also to further enable them to express their own individual perception of activity spaces and play visually.
The idea of mapping was chosen because studies by Shaw et al (2006) have shown that young children have scale interpretation and also the perceptual abilities to understand and read simple maps. Such mapping exercises have proved valuable in other studies of childrenâ€™s perceptions of their environment (Morrow, 2001, 2003). It was also envisaged that mapping will encourage not only individual interpretations but also free responses related to the topics of the focus groups. Childrenâ€™s graphical portrayal of play, activities, places and spaces in their lives was made possible by mapping. Children were also offered the opportunity to draw images or write sentences that they felt would encourage physical activity. Researchers kept detailed contextual and observational notes of all observations and also used relevant explanations provided by the kids to annotate the maps.
3.3.2Focus group discussions with par...
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