Interventions in Nutrition Education and Skills

  • Hardin, Frances (PI)
  • El-Mallakh, Peggy (CoI)
  • Kurzynske, Janet (Former CoI)
  • Witt, Cheryl (Former CoI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Individuals living in rural Appalachian food deserts have among the highest cardiovascular disease (CVD) rates in the nation. Nine risk factors account for 90% of all CVD risk and eight of those factors, excluding smoking, are influenced by nutritional habits. Diet is dependent upon individual and environmental factors, particularly in rural food deserts where socioeconomic factors contribute to poor eating habits. Few researchers have developed and tested strategies aimed at improving dietary patterns in rural food deserts and there has been no significant improvement in the dietary behaviors of most rural Appalachians over the past several decades. Given the disproportionate CVD rates and economic disadvantage in this region, it is vital to develop and test cost-effective interventions that target the individual and environmental barriers to healthy eating that are specific to this region. Through a training plan that includes mentoring by a team of nursing and nutritional scientists, and formal course work, seminars and a research study, this K23 Award will provide the skills to develop and test novel interventions aimed at increasing consumption of CVD riskreducing foods in rural residents. The applicant completed her doctorate in nursing in 2011 and has since conducted preliminary studies that inform the need to develop and test individualized nutritional interventions that address the unique barriers to healthy eating in rural Appalachia. The broad hypothesis of this program of research is that nutritional behavior change interventions individualized to each participant’s specific motivation and ability are more likely to yield long-term behavior change than standardized interventions delivered en masse. A pilot study will be conducted in six Appalachian food desert counties with participants in three counties serving as controls and participants in the other three counties receiving an individualized intervention. The specific aims of the study are to: 1) test the outcome of an individualized intervention aimed at increasing consumption of CVD-risk reducing foods and 2) determine whether health literacy, financial status and risk of food insecurity moderate the effect of the intervention. Outcome variables will be measured using a food frequency questionnaire, food security survey and by monitoring monthly grocery purchases. The combination of a structured training plan and the research project will support the applicant’s long-term goal of becoming an independent investigator in primary CVD prevention focused on improving nutrition. Specifically, the applicant will obtain training in the principles of a) conducting rigorous trials of individualized dietary interventions in the context of austere environments, b) assessing nutritional status and c) improving scientific productivity (grant-writing and publishing). The research study will provide the preliminary data, research skills and expertise needed to apply for R01 grant funding to conduct controlled trials of individualized interventions aimed at improving dietary patterns of individuals living in rural food deserts and other austere environments with similar barriers to healthy eating.
Effective start/end date4/18/143/31/17


  • National Institute of Nursing Research: $368,888.00


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