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Background: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have higher rates of chronic disease and a lower life expectancy than non-Indigenous Australians. In non-urban areas these health disparities are even larger. The aim of this qualitative study was to explore perceived barriers and enablers to attending an eight-week physical activity program in a rural and regional setting which aimed to improve health outcomes, but had a low attendance rate. Methods: Thirty-four Indigenous Australians participated in the intervention from the rural (n = 12) and the regional (n = 22) community. Qualitative semi-structured individual interviews were conducted at the follow-up health assessments with 12 participants. A thematic network analysis was undertaken to examine the barriers and enablers to participation in the program. Results: Overall, there were positive attitudes to, and high levels of motivation towards, the physical activity program. Enablers to participation were the inclusion of family members, no financial cost and a good relationship with the principal investigator, which was strengthened by the community-based participatory approach to the program design. Barriers to program attendance were mostly beyond the control of the individuals, such as ‘sorry business’, needing to travel away from the community and lack of community infrastructure. Conclusions: More consideration is needed prior to implementation of programs to understand how community-specific barriers and enablers will affect attendance to the program.


School of Allied Health

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Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.