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Open Access Research

Longitudinal analysis of minority women’s perceptions of cohesion: the role of cooperation, communication, and competition

Samantha M Harden12, Paul A Estabrooks134*, Scherezade K Mama56 and Rebecca E Lee7

Author Affiliations

1 Virginia Tech, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

2 University of British Columbia, School of Kinesiology, Vancouver, BC, USA

3 Fralin Translational Obesity Research Center, and Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA

4 Department of Family and Community Medicine, Carilion Clinic, 1 Riverside Circle, Suite 104, Roanoke, VA 24016, USA

5 Texas Obesity Research Center, Health and Human Performance, University of Houston, Houston, TX, USA

6 Department of Health Disparities Research, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA

7 College of Nursing and Health Innovation, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:57  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-57

Published: 29 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Interaction in the form of cooperation, communication, and friendly competition theoretically precede the development of group cohesion, which often precedes adherence to health promotion programs. The purpose of this manuscript was to explore longitudinal relationships among dimensions of group cohesion and group-interaction variables to inform and improve group-based strategies within programs aimed at promoting physical activity.

Methods

Ethnic minority women completed a group dynamics-based physical activity promotion intervention (N = 103; 73% African American; 27% Hispanic/Latina; mage = 47.89 + 8.17 years; mBMI = 34.43+ 8.07 kg/m2) and assessments of group cohesion and group-interaction variables at baseline, 6 months (post-program), and 12 months (follow-up).

Results

All four dimensions of group cohesion had significant (ps < 0.01) relationships with the group-interaction variables. Competition was a consistently strong predictor of cohesion, while cooperation did not demonstrate consistent patterns of prediction.

Conclusions

Facilitating a sense of friendly competition may increase engagement in physical activity programs by bolstering group cohesion.

Keywords:
Group dynamics; Group-interaction; Physical activity