Barriers and Facilitators for Health Behavior Change among Adults from Multi-Problem Households: A Qualitative Study

Gera E. Nagelhout*, Lette Hogeling, Renate Spruijt, Nathalie Postma, Hein de Vries

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Multi-problem households are households with problems on more than one of the following core problem areas: socio-economic problems, psycho-social problems, and problems related to child care. The aim of this study was to examine barriers and facilitators for health behavior change among adults from multi-problem households, as well as to identify ideas for a health promotion program. A qualitative study involving 25 semi-structured interviews was conducted among Dutch adults who received intensive family home care for multi-problem households. Results were discussed with eight social workers in a focus group interview. Data were analyzed using the Framework Method. The results revealed that the main reason for not engaging in sports were the costs. Physical activity was facilitated by physically active (transport to) work and by dog ownership. Respondents who received a food bank package reported this as a barrier for healthy eating. Those with medical conditions such as diabetes indicated that this motivated them to eat healthily. Smokers and former smokers reported that stress was a major barrier for quitting smoking but that medical conditions could motivate them to quit smoking. A reported reason for not using alcohol was having difficult past experiences such as violence and abuse by alcoholics. Mentioned intervention ideas were: something social, an outdoor sports event, cooking classes, a walking group, and children's activities in nature. Free or cheap activities that include social interaction and reduce stress are in line with the identified barriers and facilitators. Besides these activities, it may be important to influence the target group's environment by educating social workers and ensuring healthier food bank packages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1229
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • healthy lifestyle
  • multi-problem households
  • smoking
  • physical activity
  • nutrition
  • alcohol
  • social class
  • Netherlands

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