WH&Y authors: Professor Kate Steinbeck

Citation: Crino ND, Parker HM, Gifford JA, Lau KYK, Greenfield EM, Donges CE, O'Dwyer NJ, Steinbeck KS, O'Connor HT. Recruiting young women to weight management programs: Barriers and enablers. Nutrition and Dietetics. 2019;76:392-98



Aim: Recruiting young women to weight management research programs is difficult. The purpose of this study was to gain insights into the barriers and motivators that influence participation and to explore effective methods of recruitment from the perspective of young women with obesity living in both urban and regional areas.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews were used to elicit information from focus groups. The interviews were transcribed, coded and analysed qualitatively. Eight focus groups, which included a total of 27 women, were conducted. Participants had a mean age of 29.1 (±5.1) years and a mean body mass index of 35.8 (±2.9) kg/m2.

Results: The barriers to participation were multifaceted and largely similar across urban and regional participants. Fear of judgement and uncertainty about the process were major psychosocial barriers. A lack of tailoring of program content was an important program-related barrier. Physical barriers such as time commitment, cost and access were discussed extensively, particularly in urban groups. The provision of incentives and the use of positive language that focusses on the benefits of the intervention were viewed positively. Physical and virtual methods of recruitment were identified as potentially effective provided they were presented in media that this group is likely to use and can access in a private location.

Conclusions: The results of this study provide a greater understanding of the challenges faced by young women in relation to participation in weight management programs and some of the potential methods that could be utilised to facilitate participation.

About The Authors


Kate Steinbeck is an endocrinologist and adolescent physician, and Professor and Medical Foundation ...