A qualitative investigation of the health behaviours of young children from refugee families using Photo Elicitation Interviews

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To explore the experiences and perspectives of refugee parents regarding health behaviour changes among their children (i.e. changes in diet, levels of physical activity) and the impact of these changes on the health of their children aged 2-12 years.

A qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews supported by photo-elicitation.

Parents of 2 to 12 years old children who had relocated to the UK within the past three or more years were recruited from two refugee organisations in the UK. Semi-structured face-to-face interviews and photo-elicitation were used to stimulate face-to-face in-depth discussions with participants. Data were analysed using an inductive and latent thematic analysis approach.

Twenty-seven parent refugees were recruited. Participants were primarily mothers (85%) and from Syria (70%). Other countries of origin were Sudan, Eritrea, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Tunisia. Twenty-six interviews were conducted in Arabic and one in English. The analysis identified three themes: 1) Reflection on acculturation, 2) Changed parental role, and 3) Environmental barriers to being healthy. Participants described facing substantial changes to their lifestyle and personal context, including a restricted living space, restricted neighbourhood/community and inclement weather. These differences in the environment required parents to adjust their roles, and practices around their own and their child’s eating habits. These changes influenced refugee children’s health behaviours. Of particular concern to parents were increased sedentary behaviour and consumption of unhealthy snacks.
Multiple factors were identified relating to changes in family circumstances and environments that influenced refugee children’s health behaviours. Targeting these behaviours in tailored interventions may help improve refugee children’s health.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Psychology and Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Nov 2022


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