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Exploring barriers, motivators and solutions to achieve a healthy lifestyle among undergraduate student nurses

24 February 2022
15 min read
Volume 31 · Issue 4



Many preregistration student nurses tend to be overweight or obese and have unhealthy lifestyles.


This study aimed to quantify the prevalence of these issues, to identify barriers to adopting a healthy lifestyle as well as potential solutions, and to explore the use of smartphone health apps.


An online questionnaire examined diet and physical activity habits, general health and attitudes to eHealth. An in-class questionnaire with a new sample assessed current lifestyle, barriers to healthier living, support needed to achieve goals and the use of health apps.


Half of student nurses were overweight or obese and only 41% met the recommended levels of physical activity. An in-class questionnaire revealed that more than half of them wanted to have a better diet and to exercise more.


Generally, student nurses were not satisfied with their current lifestyles. A lack of motivation and time were the most frequently reported barriers; an intervention focusing on motivational support could be an acceptable and effective means of achieving and sustaining positive behaviour change.

Nurses are role models for health (Blake and Patterson, 2015) and recognise that their own health behaviour influences the quality of patient care they are able to deliver (Blake and Harrison, 2013). However, nurses often do not follow their own advice in spite of being well informed about the impact. Bogossian et al (2012) found that 62% of nurses and midwives in Australia, New Zealand and the UK were overweight or obese. A cross-sectional study using the Health Survey for England found that 25% of nurses were obese compared with 14% of other care professionals, including doctors and dentists (Kyle et al, 2017). Unregistered care staff have the highest prevalence of obesity at 31%. Obesity prevalence within the general population showed similar patterns as in 2018, with 67% of men and 60% of women classed as overweight or obese (NHS Digital, 2020).

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