Barriers and enablers to the family meal across time; a grounded theory study comparing South Australian parents’ perspectives

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Abstract

Family meals are positively associated with numerous beneficial health and social outcomes. Current discourse however claims that parents are faced with numerous barriers when trying to bring the family together to share a meal. Solutions for overcoming barriers to a positive shared family meal are often individualistic and do not address the systemic pressures and burdens families have faced for decades. The aim of this study was to explore the systemic and novel barriers and enablers to shared family meals as experienced by families across time. To achieve this, a qualitative study informed by grounded theory was conducted. Parents of South Australian families were recruited and interviewed in the 1990s, and a new sample of parents were recruited and interviewed in 2020. Transcripts were analysed using grounded theory and comparative analysis methods. Thirty-two parents from 16 families were interviewed in the 1990s, and 22 parents from 10 families in 2020. Ten factors were identified presenting as either enablers or barriers to the family meal, depending on the context they were experienced. Barriers and enablers were largely consistent across time. Scheduling and flexibility, children's disruptions and children's independence, privileges required to have family meals and motivation and commitment to the family meal were identified as persistent enablers and barriers across time. These findings indicate that parents are faced with similar challenges they have been facing for decades and are still not being adequately supported to execute family meals regularly. Recognising that factors present as either barriers or enablers to the family meal provides us with opportunities to transform barriers to enablers and support families to have regular, meaningful family meals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107091
Number of pages9
JournalAppetite
Volume191
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

Keywords

  • Barriers
  • Enablers
  • Family meal
  • Food provision
  • Food work
  • Grounded theory

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