Sheltered homeless individual's attitudes and beliefs towards physical activity

Kent Simmonds, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Homelessness is a condition which affects 1.59 million people on a given night in the United States. Homelessness is associated with low levels of physical health and impaired quality of life. Physical activity has been shown to improve all levels of the bio-psycho-social model of health and may provide benefit to the homeless. This study seeks to understand sheltered homeless individual's attitudes and beliefs towards physical activity. Data was collected from 33 participants who were sheltered homeless individuals and resided in San Antonio Texas. Participants were placed in four focus groups which varied depending on the level of involvement in the Street 2 Feet (S2F) physical activity program, which was designed for the homeless. Participants completed a 30 minute questionnaire which asked questions about demographics, past experiences and behaviors, perceived health status, as well as questions about their history of homelessness. Following the questionnaire, a one hour semi-structured group (5-10 participants) interview took place with questions relative to attitudes and beliefs towards physical activity as well as questions pertaining to their insights about relevant components needed to tailor a physical activity intervention for the homeless. Data was analyzed using grounded theory in which common themes are extracted from the transcripts of the semi-structured interviews. These themes were then turned into codes which are applied back to the transcripts by two research assistants and a final reliability of 70.7% was achieved. Descriptive statistics (mean, range, standard deviation) were used for the questionnaires. Results show that knowledge and favorable attitudes towards physical activity were common in all groups. The group with no affiliation with the physical activity program discussed a number of barriers to physical activity. Participants of all groups discussed their belief that physical activity improves their quality of life, but only participants affiliated with S2F believe that physical activity may help them in their efforts to find a job or housing. Public health researchers and practitioners should engage the target population when designing health promotion interventions.

Subject Area

Behavioral psychology|Public health

Recommended Citation

Simmonds, Kent, "Sheltered homeless individual's attitudes and beliefs towards physical activity" (2013). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1549842.