Research Article| Volume 50, ISSUE 10, P984-992, November 2018

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Communicating and Assessing Physical Activity: Outcomes From Cognitive Interviews With Low-Income Adults



      This investigation sought to identify the physical activity (PA) terms and concepts that are best understood by low-income adults.


      This was a cross-sectional study using semistructured cognitive interviews that employed retrospective verbal probing techniques.


      Interviews were conducted in Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) sites in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Washington.


      A convenience sample of 57 adults participating in or eligible for participation in EFNEP.

      Phenomenon of Interest

      Participants’ interpretations and conceptualizations of PA concepts and terms.


      Template and constant comparative analysis.


      Participants interpreted many PA terms and concepts in unintended ways. Exercise was the term that came closest to conveying moderate to vigorous PA. Terms used to describe muscle-strengthening activities were mostly understood. Intentional engagement in extra activities was difficult for participants to conceptualize despite multiple tested wordings; making small changes to be active came closest to conveying this concept. Participants’ comprehension of the PA terms differed by their PA and literacy levels.

      Conclusions and Implications

      Nutrition educators should be mindful of the terminologies they used in communicating messages and assessing PA behaviors to EFNEP participants or similar populations.

      Key Words

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