Physical activity adoption to adherence, lapse, and dropout: a self-determination theory perspective

Florence-Emilie Kinnafick, Cecilie Thøgersen-Ntoumani, Joan L Duda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Grounded in Self-Determination Theory, we aimed to explore and identify key motivational processes involved in the transition from a physically inactive to an active lifestyle, and the processes involved in lapse and dropout behavior within a walking program. We implemented a qualitative, longitudinal case study method, using semistructured interviews and theoretical thematic analyses. Fifteen women were interviewed over 10 months and three profiles were generated: (a) nonadherence, (b) lapse/readoption of physical activity, and (c) adherence. Internalization of walking behavior was key to adherence. Satisfaction of the needs for competence and relatedness were central for participation during exercise at the adoption stages, and autonomy was particularly pertinent in facilitating adherence. Those who lapsed and restarted physical activity experienced feelings of autonomy at the point of readoption. Sources of support were driving forces in the adoption and adherence phases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)706-718
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2014


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • England
  • Female
  • Grounded Theory
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation
  • Motor Activity
  • Patient Dropouts/psychology
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Qualitative Research
  • Walking/psychology
  • Young Adult
  • behavior change
  • exercise / physical activity
  • qualitative analysis


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