Stakeholder perspectives on adapting and disseminating Ghana’s physical activity guidelines: a qualitative study

Dec 11, 2021 | Balis

BACKGROUND: Ghana is facing the public health “double burden” of both communicable and chronic diseases. To combat increased chronic disease prevalence, physical activity promotion efforts are necessary. The Ministry of Health (MOH) developed physical activity guidelines in 2009, but community members are unaware of the guidelines and sample activities (e.g., ballroom dancing) are not culturally appropriate. The purposes of this study were to investigate 1) dissemination of the physical activity guidelines through MOH and Ghana Health Service (GHS) and 2) culturally appropriate physical activities.

METHODS: Data were collected in urban and rural areas of Ghana through focus groups (N = 2) with community representatives and in-depth interviews (N = 15) with GHS health workers. Focus group and interview questions included recommended types of physical activity; interview questions included dissemination factors based on Diffusion of Innovations. The research team analyzed the data through an inductive, grounded theory approach.

RESULTS: Together, the focus groups and in-depth interviews generated 942 meaning units coded into themes of Physical Activity Perceptions (N = 337 meaning units), Suggested Physical Activities (N = 317), and Dissemination and Implementation Factors (N = 290). Participants had positive perceptions of physical activity but expressed concerns over individual abilities; barriers included the built environment and a lack of time. Suggested physical activities included walking, jogging, football, and dancing for adults; traditional games and football for youth, and walking and daily chores for older adults. Participants noted that guideline implementation was influenced by leadership engagement at multiple levels, relative advantage, and compatibility. Respondents suggested implementation strategies to resolve barriers, including involving partner organizations and developing an implementation plan. Participants were largely unaware of the physical activity guidelines; typical dissemination methods included written materials and the internet.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study suggest that physical activity guidelines should include familiar physical activities such as traditional games. Results also suggest that public health workers within GHS experience challenges in disseminating the physical activity guidelines. Adapting, disseminating, and implementing physical activity guidelines is a necessary step in increasing physical activity levels and preventing chronic diseases. These results contribute to understanding translation of physical activity policy to practice.

PubMed Abstract

Balis, L. E., Adjei, K. K., Nyame, S., Opoku Mensah, J., & Asante, K. P. (2021). Stakeholder perspectives on adapting and disseminating Ghana's physical activity guidelines: a qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 2266. doi:10.1186/s12889-021-12250-1