Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Susan P. Himburg

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Lorraine J. Weatherspoon

Third Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Zisca Dixon

Fifth Advisor's Name

Sandra L. Lobar

Date of Defense



Public health data show that African-Americans have not adopted health-promoting behaviors of diet and exercise. Spirituality, important in the lives of many African-American women, may be associated with health-promoting behaviors. This study was designed to determine how spirituality relates to health-promoting behaviors in African-American women. Burkhardt's theoretical framework for spirituality was adopted and measures were selected for the three elements of the framework: connectedness with self, others, and environment.

The study used a descriptive cross sectional correlational design to investigate the relationships of the independent variables of spirituality, sociodemographics, and BMI, to the dependent variables of diet and exercise, to answer the two primary questions: What is the role of spirituality in impacting the health-promoting behaviors of African- American women? Of the independent variables of spirituality, sociodemographics, and BMI, which are the best predictors of diet and exercise? C

entral and South Floridian African-American women (n=260) between 18 and 82 years of age completed several questionnaires: Rosenberg's Self-Esteem Scale, Health Promoting Lifestyle Profile II, Spiritual Perspective Scale, Brief Block Food Frequency, and socio-demographic information.

Hierarchical regression identified 40% of the variability of diet to be explained by socio-demographic (education) and spirituality variables (stress management and health responsibility) (p<.001). Twenty-nine percent of the variability of exercise was explained by socio-demographic (education) and spirituality variables (stress management) (p<.001). Canonical correlation analysis identified a significant pair of canonical variates which indicated individuals with good nutrition (.95), increased physical activity (.79), and healthy eating (.42) also had better stress management (.88), better health responsibility (.67), higher spiritual growth (.66), better interpersonal relations (.50), more education (.49), and higher self-esteem (.33). The set explained 57% of the variability (p<.001).

An understanding of the factors that influence these women's decision to utilize health-promoting strategies could provide health professionals with additional information to enable them to design culturally and spiritually related health messages for African-American women. The findings of this present study speak of the importance of focusing on stress management, health responsibility, spiritual growth, interpersonal relations and self-esteem along with diet and exercise; this will likely provide improvement in the health-promoting behaviors of African-American women.





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