Date of Conferral



Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)




Eric S. Anderson


Black River Memorial Hospital identified obesity as a priority health concern in its rural service area; this concern was in line with the county's needs assessment. It was identified that women of childbearing age affect the lifestyle and health choices of their families and that they are at higher risk for the additional health risks associated with obesity affecting pregnancy and birth. Despite the identification of these risk factors, the factors that affect healthy weight management have not been well understood. Using the life course theory, a qualitative inquiry in the form of a structured interview was developed with local community experts and stakeholders. Sixteen women, aged 18-44, were recruited from the area Women Infant Children (WIC) program, the local food pantry, and area businesses. Audio-taped interviews were conducted. Data were analyzed using open and axial coding. The findings suggest that the health literacy among this sample of women was low with regards to healthy weight (BMI) and the risks posed by obesity. The most cited barriers to healthy nutrition were the cost of healthy food, food preferences, and the time to prepare healthy food. The most cited barriers to healthy activity were lack of motivation, lack of child care and lack of fun, affordable activities, and severe weather. The most common motivators for pursuing a healthy lifestyle were identified as the respondents' children, the encouragement of significant others and friends, and the participation of the family in healthy lifestyle choices. Based on the literature review, knowledge of community resources, and these findings, broad recommendations to enhance the culture of healthy weight management were provided to local community stakeholders to facilitate community planning for a healthier population.