Gjennomføring og vedlikehald av livsstilsendring – kva skal til? Ein kvalitativ studie av tidlegare frisklivsdeltakarar sine erfaringar med å gjere og vedlikehalde livsstilsendringar.
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Background: Healthy living centres in Norway provide programs that aim to help the participants in improving their lifestyle. Although some studies report promising short-term effects of these programs, very little is currently known about the long-term outcomes. The experience of participants who have succeeded in a long-term lifestyle change may be valuable in order to identify important factors of success. Purpose: To explore former participants in healthy living centres’ experiences on making and maintaining lifestyle changes. Material and methods: This was a qualitative interview study including 15 former participants in healthy living centres. The participants had made and maintained lifestyle changes for four years or longer, and had experienced improvement of health and quality of life. Data analysis was based on systematic text condensation. Results: Change of behaviour was described as a dynamical process including experiences of motivation, resistance and challenges. Will-power, taking responsibility and making an effort was described as crucial to succeed. Experiences of positive health effects, coping, as well as the fear of consequences of relapse, were described as important facilitators. It was crucial to find suitable physical activity. Support from participants and health providers at the healthy living centre were also described as important. Conclusions: The results are in line with previous qualitative reports on healthy living centres, and provide knowledge about important factors for successful change and long-term maintenance of behaviour. Relevance: The healthy living centres should continue their approach to support participants in the implementation and maintenance of long-term lifestyle change. The providers should emphasize and promote the participants` personal responsibility and will to make changes. Future studies should include participants who did not succeed in changing lifestyle, aiming to reveal barriers towards change, and develop the programs to help more people succeed. In order to adjust the behaviour change programs to different persons` need for prolonged participation at the healthy living centres, the duration of such programs should be discussed.