Knowledge, attitudes, and practices of healthcare workers about healthy lifestyles : a study in an urban-based district hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
Background: There is global concern about the impact of lifestyle related diseases which have been on a steady increase in recent years. Poor nutrition, reduced physical activity and cigarette smoking have been documented as the main lifestyle behaviors that result in an increase in prevalence of the three most common occurring chronic diseases of lifestyle namely: diabetes, hypertension and cardiac diseases. Healthcare workers are frontline personnel and are seen as role models by their family, friends and the community they serve. It is therefore important that positive healthy lifestyle behaviors are practiced and encouraged by healthcare workers themselves. Objectives: To develop an initial descriptive profile of hospital employees with regards to their general knowledge, attitudes and practices about healthy lifestyles and to make appropriate recommendations to the hospital management on how the workplace can support the adoption of healthy lifestyles. Methods: The study was conducted at one health institution using the permanently employed staff as the study population. An exploratory descriptive study design was used in context of the precede-proceed planning framework. Self-administered questionnaires and consent forms were distributed in English and isiZulu. Collection boxes were placed in all wards and departments. Data was captured using the SPSS version 13 statistical package. Results: The response rate was 42%. Respondents were classified into the administrative, general staff and health professional categories. There was a significant difference (p=0.03) between the staff body mass index and their weight perception. Knowledge and attitude had mean indices of greater than 70% and the practice indices were lower for all three categories at less than 45%. A significant difference was found between certain staff categories in the knowledge and attitude indices but no significant difference existed in their practices. Conclusion: All categories of staff possessed adequate knowledge and attitudes but this is not transferred into positive health promoting practices. The possibility of workplace health promoting interventions was well supported by staff especially with regards to healthier meal choices at the staff dining room and an onsite gym facility. The main limitations of the study were the non-standardized data collection tool, and the poor response rate, which make the generalization of the study findings difficult.
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