Understanding the complex interplay of barriers to physical activity amongst black and minority ethnic groups in the United Kingdom: a qualitative synthesis using meta-ethnography

Sejlo Koshoedo* (Corresponding Author), Virginia A Paul-Ebhohimhen, Ruth G Jepson, Margaret C Watson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)
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To conduct a meta-ethnographic analysis of qualitative studies to identify barriers to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) individuals engaging in physical activity in the UK context.

A qualitative synthesis using meta-ethnographic methods to synthesis studies of barriers to engaging in physical activity among BME groups in the UK. A comprehensive search strategy of multiple databases was employed to identify qualitative research studies published up to October 2012. The eleven searched databases included ASSIA, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, Health Technology Assessment (HTA), NHS Scotland Library, Physical Activity Health Alliance (PAHA), PsyINFO, Social Services Abstract, Sport discuss and Web of Science. The Noblit and Hare’s meta-ethnographic approach was undertaken to develop an inductive and interpretive form of knowledge synthesis.

Fourteen papers met the inclusion criteria. The synthesis indicated that barriers to physical activity among BME individuals were influenced by four main concepts: perceptions; cultural expectations; personal barriers; and factors limiting access to facilities. BME individuals had different understandings of physical activity were influenced by migration history, experiences, cultural and health beliefs. This in turn may have a disempowering effect on BME individuals in terms of adopting or maintaining physical activity. These barriers to physical activity were explained at a higher conceptual level by a socio-ecological model. The social construct ‘individual perception and understanding of physical activity’ was particularly relevant to theoretical models and interventions.

Interventions to promote engagement with physical activity need to address perceptions of this behaviour. The elicited concepts and contexts could be used to enhance the development of tailored effective health promotion interventions for BME individuals.
Original languageEnglish
Article number643
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2015

Bibliographical note


The authors would like to acknowledge the support of Graeme Scobbie of NHS Health Scotland for his help with experts’ databases.


  • ethnic groups
  • physical activity
  • culture
  • lifestyle
  • migrants
  • minority health
  • systematic review
  • black population
  • meta-ethnography


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