Ms. Jennifer Mandelbaum, a doctoral student in the department of health promotion, education, and behavior in the University of South Carolina Arnold School of Public Health, has partnered with collaborators at Yale University, Ghana’s National Catholic Secretariat, and the University of Ghana to complete a study examining factors influencing dietary practices among Ghanaian residents and Liberians living in a protracted refugee situation in Ghana. They published their research in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
The researchers used a qualitative study design, collecting data via audio-taped in-depth interviews as part of a larger mixed-method cross-sectional study. The participants were Ghanaian residents and Liberian refugees living in the Buduburam Refugee Settlement and neighboring villages in Ghana. These participants included 27 Liberian and Ghanaian women ages 16 years or older who lived with at least one other female generation.
[Photo: Ms. Jennifer Mandelbaum]
Ms. Mandelbaum and her team found similarities and differences in factors influencing dietary practices among Liberian refugees living in Buduburam Refugee Settlement and Ghanaians living in and around this settlement. Domains, themes, and subthemes were confirmed through a highly iterative coding and consensus process. ATLAS.ti (version 7.5.10) was used to finalize coding and extract quotations.
Seven domains emerged forming direct and indirect pathways influencing dietary patterns among Liberian refugees and Ghanaians. These domains included social support, food availability, nutrition knowledge, cultural food beliefs, food access, food preparation, and national identity.
The authors’ findings provide important insights into crucial factors driving dietary practices among refugees and local communities in and around a former protracted refugee settlement. Their results strongly suggest that nutrition education, food availability, and access issues should be addressed with culturally sensitive programs targeting both the refugee and host communities.