Asian/Pacific Island Nursing Journal


phenomenology, lived experience, Pacific Islands, big/large body size, body image, obesity

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This phenomenological study explored the lived experience with "big body" size of Pacific Island women who migrated to Hawaii. Giorgi’s descriptive phenomenological approach was utilized in this study. A purposive sample included six Pacific Island women. Five of the six women had migrated to Hawaii from the island nations of Micronesia. The sixth participant was a Native Hawaiian who had lived in Micronesia and had returned to Hawaii. The collection and transcription of data were done by the first author. Data were categorized into themes independently by the three authors and bracketing was maintained throughout the study. The women identified the dichotomy of "big body" versus "small body" and the connotation of each body size in how they viewed the world around them. They shared their lifestyle and transitional changes in trying to adapt and ‘fit’ into the new lifestyle in Hawaii. These changes impacted their eating habits and work schedule, level of activity, and financial security. The women identified biopsychosocial concerns in their lives and the need to re-evaluate their "big body" size in relation to their health and physical and psychosocial changes. Implications for future research are to include a diverse representation of women from island countries within the Pacific Basin. The results of this study provided valuable information related to cultural relevance and sensitivity in working with Pacific Island women in managing their health.