Study protocol for an adapted personal project analysis to measure vertical inter‑goal relations on physical activity and diet

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Sara Kassas et al.

Kassas S. et al. (2022) Study protocol for an adapted personal project analysis to measure vertical inter‑goal relations on physical activity and diet. BMC Psychology.  10:225


Background: The promotion of multiple healthy lifestyles has been implemented as part of public health efforts to prevent and reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases. However, these interventions have shown a heterogeneity in their effectiveness. The pursuit of multiple daily goals may influence overall progress in achieving health goals. Horizontal inter-goal relations can be conflicting (due to time constraints) or facilitating (due to goal compatibility) and impact progress towards goal achievement. Personal values also play an important role in health promotion. Personal values direct attention towards accomplishing a higher-level goal through goal setting. Identifying the conflicting or facilitating relationships between health goals and personal values would provide insights in how individuals value health and the personal values that may support the adoption of a healthy behavior. The health goals that this study will focus on are physical activity and a healthy diet. 
Methods: Participants between 18 and 30 years old residing in Belgium and interested in a healthy diet and/or physical activity, will be recruited. The study will be a mixed-methods research study based on an adapted personal project analysis for goal elicitation, goal appraisal, and rating of inter-goal conflicting or facilitating relations on a cross-impact matrix. The main objectives include examining the conflicting and facilitating relations between health goals and personal values. Secondary objectives include: examining correlations between horizontal and vertical goal relations; and the goal self-concordance score as a method of data triangulation of facilitating relations between goals and personal values.
Discussion: This study will provide insights into how the emerging adult population relate healthy behaviors, specifically physical activity and a healthy diet, to their personal values. The degree to which individuals are able to pursue a health goal is also influenced by other life goals, and therefore the conflicting and facilitating relations between health goals and other life goals will also be examined. This study contributes to multiple health behavior change theories and has implications for the formulation of interventions for the promotion of healthy behaviors.

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