|University of Oslo
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This thesis is a qualitative study, exploring the experiences of project workers and participants in the lifestyle intervention InnvaDiab in Oslo, Norway. The target group of the intervention was immigrant women with Pakistani background with an elevated risk for diabetes type 2. Through a 7 months intervention programme, they have been encouraged to make changes in their diet and physical activity pattern. There is a growing body of quantitative research connected to the prevention of diabetes, but the experience of taking part in this kind of intervention is less studied. Thus, the aim of this study was to increase knowledge on how women with Pakistani background experience their participation in a lifestyle intervention. The perspective of the project workers was also included. In addition, the aim was to increase knowledge on how the women perceive the notion ‘being healthy’ and their understanding of diabetes. Empirical data was collected by focus group discussion and semi-structured interviews with ten of the participants and five of the project workers. In addition, observation was used to increase understanding of the setting where tests took place. The study has been inspired by medical anthropology, seeing health and ill health in a social and cultural context. The findings from this study indicate that the intervention has succeeded in making the information culturally relevant for the women, for instance by using their traditional food as example. Many of the women stated that they had changed elements in their diet and physical activity pattern. The change in lifestyle was a negotiation process where social, cultural and personal factors were involved. ‘Being healthy’ was connected to daily roles and tasks, like being able to work or socialize with children. Health was seen as a means to live a meaningful life, rather than a goal in itself. The project workers and the participants had a similar understanding of the causes of diabetes: diet, physical inactivity, genetic predisposition and psychological factors like worries and stress. The explanatory models differed among them and the Pakistani women included traditional health beliefs in their understanding of health. The majority of the women felt that they were at risk of getting diabetes, and the fear of the disease was a main motivator for changing lifestyle.