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A phenomenological exploration of change towards healthier food purchasing behaviour in women from a lower socioeconomic background using a health app
Flaherty, Sarah Jane
Collins, Alan M.
McAuliffe, Fionnuala M.
Food purchasing is dominated by routines and habits that may hamper the use of reflective decision-making and impede change. Disrupting existing behavioural patterns may address this challenge. Individuals from a lower socioeconomic background are more likely to report unhealthier purchasing and targeted initiatives are required. Health apps offer a potential approach although little evidence is available for this specific context. This research examines the individual's experience of changing food purchasing behaviour using an app focusing on women from a lower socioeconomic background. Multiple methods across different time-points explored the individual's experience over an 8–11 week period. An accompanied shop, incorporating think-aloud and researcher observations, was undertaken at baseline, followed by an in-depth interview and questionnaire. A reflective account of the individual's experience was recorded at four weeks and grocery receipts were shared for the duration. At follow-up, an accompanied shop, in-depth interview, and questionnaire were again used. Data were analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. The app appeared to disrupt existing behaviour by encouraging a more conscious approach to food purchasing. Self-monitoring, problem solving, and behavioural prompts were expressed as the most effective techniques. Due to the retail environment, self-control was necessary to create and maintain healthier behaviour. Individual higher-order goals appeared to influence behaviour change and the extent to which reflective cognition was employed. The role of retailers in directing behaviour was acknowledged but it appeared that change was still viewed as individual responsibility. In conclusion, apps may facilitate healthier purchasing via specific behaviour change techniques but personal and environmental factors may influence the change process. A range of strategies may be necessary to support sufficient and sustained change.
Behaviour change , Food purchasing , Health app , Healthy eating , Lower socioeconomic
Flaherty, S. J., McCarthy, M. B., Collins, A. M., McCafferty, C. and McAuliffe, F. M. (2020) 'A phenomenological exploration of change towards healthier food purchasing behaviour in women from a lower socioeconomic background using a health app', Appetite, 147, 104566 (11 pp). doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.104566