Health behaviours of young mothers: Implications for health promotion and cancer prevention

Lucy Hackshaw-McGeagh, Kimberly Jamie, Rhona Beynon, Roisin O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: Evidence suggests that younger mothers engage in poorer health behaviours, resulting in increased cancer risk. We aimed to better understand the health behaviours of younger mothers and the factors that influence their lifestyle choices, in order to improve cancer prevention within this population.
A multiple focus group, photo-elicitation-aided approach was used, in which young mothers(n = 27; aged 16–24 years) were provided with cameras and asked to capture ‘a week in your life’. Photographs were developed and participants invited to an initial focus group where photographs were used to elicit discussion, exploring participants’ health behaviours. Data were thematically analysed particularly identifying themes relating to barriers and facilitators of positive health behaviours. Participants were later invited to
participate in a second focus group, to explore and validate identified themes further.
Themes emerged from the data relating to (1) the mothers’ personal perceptions of health, (2) health-related behaviours and (3) beliefs about cancer and its causes. Barriers to positive health behaviours included a lack of money, childcare and cookery skills; facilitators included the social media, commercial
weight loss programmes and local community organisations.
Conclusion: Study findings provide insight into the health behaviours and life choices of young mothers. They help illustrate health perceptions in relation to cancer risk, providing an understanding of how their daily routine and circumstance influence young women’s decisions and lifestyle behaviour choices and highlighting barriers to, and facilitators of, positive health behaviours. Data hold potential to inform future health-related research among young mothers, particularly relating to cancer prevention intervention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
JournalHealth Education Journal
Publication statusPublished - 20 Dec 2017


  • Cancer prevention, focus group, health behaviours, photo-elicitation, young mothers


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