Baharoon H1, King J2
1University of Ottawa, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ottawa, Canada, 2University of Ottawa, Physiotherapy Program, School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Ottawa, Canada

Background: Adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours and managing stress is the target of the primary and secondary prevention in cardiac rehabilitation programs to prevent cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Unfortunately, Arab Canadians or recent Arab immigrants tend to have higher levels of risk factors for CVD. Despite the importance of faith, cultural background in their life, little is known on the impact of acculturation and religion/spirituality (RS) on adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours and managing stress among Arab Canadians or recent Arab immigrants to prevent CVD.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to identify and understand the impact of acculturation and R/S in adopting healthy lifestyles behaviours to prevent CVD among Arab Canadians or recent Arab immigrants from the perspective of the Canadian Arabic Health Coalition´s members.

Methods: An in-person interview and three focus groups averaged 80 minutes, were conducted in February-March 2018 with members of the Canadian Arabic Health Coalition. The coalition is a voluntary community organization, made up of Arab individuals with different to supports Arab communities in adopting healthy life behaviours. Participants shared their perspectives on the impact of acculturation and religion/spirituality among Arab people in adopting healthy lifestyle behaviours and managing stress. Transcripts were analyzed with an inductive content analysis approach was used to identify themes.

Results: The majority of 17 participants were Muslim women (N= 15), who were immigrants. Their different opinions were inspired from their work experiences as community health promoters and their personal experiences as Arab individuals. Data were coded into four themes: concerns influencing women, concerns influencing elderly people, concerns influencing young people, and concerns influencing recent Arab immigrants. All these themes were influenced by acculturation and religion/spirituality in different overlapping areas based on gender, age and the time in Canada.

Conclusion(s): Religion/spirituality may play an important indirect role in managing stress through socialization, family support and adopting coping strategies. Religion/spirituality may encourage Arab people to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours through physical activity programs offered by religious centres. However, some religious/cultural concerns may represent barriers for Arab women, elderly people, and newcomers in adopting healthy behaviours, but these barriers may be combined with acculturative stress challenges related to communication, income, education and/or social and family support. Young people in Arabic communities are more flexible in dealing with these religious/cultural concerns.

Implications: Findings from this study will inform two follow-up studies that will focus on the roles of acculturation and religion/spirituality in managing stress and lifestyle change behaviours after cardiac events among Arab individuals diagnosed with CVD.

Keywords: Healthy lifestyle behaviours, Arab immigrants, Religious and Cultural Concerns

Funding acknowledgements: Self funding

Topic: Health promotion & wellbeing/healthy ageing; Cardiorespiratory

Ethics approval required: Yes
Institution: University of Ottawa
Ethics committee: Research Ethics Board at the University of Ottawa
Ethics number: H12-17-04

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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