Neighborhood Influences on Physical Activity Among Low-Income African American Adults With Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

Soim Park, Wayne W. Zachary, Joel Gittelsohn, Charlene C. Quinn, Pamela J. Surkan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to explore the influences of the neighborhood environment on physical activity (PA) among people living with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in a community with limited resources. Methods: Participants were adults with T2DM and their family members or friends who help in the management of T2DM and who were living in a low-income African American (AA) community. Health care providers working in the neighborhood were also included. Using an emergent design, qualitative data were collected through 7 focus group discussions (N = 63) and 13 in-depth interviews. Verbatim transcriptions were analyzed via thematic coding to explore contextual factors that limit PA and meaning around neighborhood features that promote or discourage PA. Results: Levels of PA were strongly limited by neighborhood insecurity and a lack of recreational facilities in the neighborhood. People with T2DM and physical/mobility disabilities were more affected by the neighborhood environment than those without disabilities, particularly due to perceived safety concerns and social stigma. Despite socioeconomic inequalities within neighborhoods, participants showed resilience and made efforts to overcome social-environmental barriers to PA, applied various coping strategies, and received social support. Conclusions: Results suggested that in an underserved neighborhood, individual barriers to physical activity were amplified by neighborhood-level factors such as crime, especially among individuals who have T2DM and disabilities. Socioeconomic inequalities should be addressed further to improve management of T2DM and its complications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-190
Number of pages10
JournalDiabetes Educator
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Health Professions (miscellaneous)


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