Nursing, Storytelling, Weight gain, Women


This qualitative study included women who had gone through the menopausal transition and had experienced obesity, and it focused on their weight histories and experiences across the life course. The goal of this research was to add to the body of knowledge concerning weight gain by applying a novel middle range theory (story theory). Story theory was used to collect and interpret from women’s life course stories the critical themes and patterns of their weight gain. Oral accounts were elicited during personal interviews from a convenience sample of ten women recruited from a weight loss and exercise program in Central Florida. Literature focusing on the prevalence of obesity, contributing factors and associated complications, as well as treatment approaches is extensive. A variety of approaches have been proposed to identify factors that contribute to the development of obesity across the lifespan. Ultimately, the goal of these studies is to understand risk factors for weight gain along with corresponding prevention and management strategies. A particular life course approach focuses on critical periods across the life span that may be associated with risk for the development of obesity. For women, puberty, pregnancy and menopause are noted to be critical for weight change in the life course as they are associated with hormonal changes and changes in body composition including fat mass. Story theory was chosen to conceptualize and guide participants through a personal interview in order to share their weight experiences along their life course. Content analysis procedures were used to analyze the data in order to identify themes and corresponding verbatim exemplars. A re-constructed composite story was developed that included excerpts from the participants’ stories in order to reveal contextualized results. Themes that were identified relative to participants’ experiences with their weight included: changes associated with emotional and iv physical health; eating patterns associated with multiple and/or changing roles/relationships; and, changes in the environment. An interpretation of the predominant pattern of weight gain included: changes in eating and physical activity that occur during multiple and simultaneous transitional life experiences, primarily in adulthood. The findings suggest that transitional experiences in women's lives - physiological, developmental, relational or environmental - were critical in that they presented risk for behavior changes related to eating and physical activity. The results of this study and the use of story theory have implications for providing individualized, patient-centered lifestyle recommendations for the prevention of unhealthy weight gain


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Graduation Date





Bushy, Angeline


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Nursing








Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Nursing, Nursing -- Dissertations, Academic

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