Process evaluation of a Mediterranean diet and exercise intervention among an older at-risk UK-based population

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Background: To explore participant experiences of a Mediterranean diet and exercise intervention informed by the COM-B model, delivered using a website, group sessions, and supermarket vouchers (MedEx-UK).

Methods: Fourteen semi-structured focus groups (54 participants at elevated dementia risk, aged 55-74 years, three UK urban/rural areas) and four individual interviews. Codebook thematic analysis was informed by MRC process evaluation guidance.

Findings: Initial findings indicate high acceptability for the group sessions and supermarket vouchers, and mixed views about the website. Participants wanted more group sessions. They mentioned that they had implemented recommended changes in Mediterranean diet and physical activity to a high degree, although this varied across participants. Reported psycho-social facilitators included partner and family support, the social element of group sessions, and being motivated. Practical facilitators varied across participants; these included having Mediterranean foods in a convenient place, e.g., kitchen table, bulk purchasing and cooking, and swapping foods for Mediterranean diet friendly foods, e.g., swapping red meat for fish. Reported facilitators for exercise change included apps and technology, and goal setting. Reported barriers included negative perceptions of food such as olive oil, having to cook for others, injury, illness, and the weather. Some reported challenges in consuming the amount of oil (50 ml/d) and vegetables (400g/d) recommended.

Discussion: Motivation, social and physical opportunity were key perceived enablers of behaviour change. Participants’ reflections support the use of group-based interventions targeting diet and exercise. Future interventions need to target the wide range of influences on eating a Mediterranean diet and increasing exercise.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Event36th Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society - Slovakia, Bratislava
Duration: 23 Aug 202227 Aug 2022


Conference36th Annual Conference of the European Health Psychology Society
Internet address

Cite this