Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Dean F. Anderson
Due to the health crises in the United States, there is a need to better understand health behavior patterns and how they are developed and maintained. Therefore, there is a need to better understand exercise patterns and healthy eating behaviors and how they are developed and maintained. Many scholars have suggested that an individual's concept of self is composed of numerous identities. As role identities motivate behavior consistent with the identity, role-identity salience may predict future exercise or healthy eating behavior. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine exercise identity, healthy-eater identity and frequency of exercise and healthy-eating behaviors, as well as the stability and frequency of these behaviors during six months of a worksite health promotion program. This study was also exploratory in nature, as the relationship between exercise identity and healthy-eater identity and the respective behaviors were examined, as well as the relationship between exercise identity, healthy-eater identity and affect.
Two waves of data collection, separated by 6 months, were performed with employees of a rural community hospital located in the Midwest who were enrolled in an employee health program. Attrition rate was 38% resulting in a final sample of 83 respondents. The average age was 42 years with a range of 24 to 69 years. Exercise identity was measured by the average of nine Likert-type items (Anderson & Cychosz, 1994) designed to measure the extent to which exercise was descriptive of the concept of self (α=.95). Healthy-eater identity was measured by modifying the nine items in the Exercise Identity Scale (Strachan & Brawley, 2009) (α=.89).
Difference scores were calculated for dependent variables of exercise behavior over the past 7 days, exercise identity, positive affect and negative affect by subtracting pre-test scores from post-test scores. A MANOVA was utilized to compare four exercise groups with each of the five dependent variable differences (F(5,72)=2.118, p=0.01). Univariate tests indicated that 7 day exercise behavior was significantly related to exercise group (F(3,80)=6.121, p=0.001), as well as positive affect (F(3,80)=3.340, p=0.02) and negative affect (F(3,80)=3.155, p = 0.03). Exercise identity approached significance (F(3,80)=2.411, p=0.073). Difference scores were also calculated for dependent variables of average servings of fruit and vegetables per day, healthy-eater identity, positive affect and negative affect. A MANOVA comparing each of the four eating behavior groups for each of the dependent variable differences was not statistically significant (F(3,73)=0.496, p = 0.88). These data suggest individuals with more salient exercise and healthy-eater identities held higher identity standards and were more likely to seek identity-behavior congruence by engaging in exercise and healthy eating behavior. Moreover, exercise identity and healthy-eater identity remained stable in the employees reporting more salient identities.
Dillman, Heather, "Stability of exercise identity and healthy-eater identity over six months among rural hospital employees" (2012). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12938.