Developing a measure of behavior change in a program to help low-income parents prevent unhealthful weight gain in children

Katherine L Dickin, Megan Lent, Angela H Lu, Joran Sequeira, Jamie S Dollahite
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior 2012, 44 (1): 12-21

OBJECTIVE: To develop and test a brief measure of changes in eating, active play, and parenting practices after an intervention to help parents shape children's choices and home environments.

DESIGN: Sequential phases of development and testing: expert panel review, cognitive testing interviews, field testing, test-retest study, and assessment of convergence with detailed previously validated instruments.

SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP), New York State. Low-income parents of 3- to 11-year-old children; Cooperative Extension nutrition and parenting educators.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Questionnaire reliability, validity, respondent comprehension, and feasibility of use in program contexts.

ANALYSIS: Qualitative analysis of item comprehension. Correlational analysis of test-retest reliability and convergent validity.

RESULTS: A behavior checklist was developed to assess change in parent-reported family eating, physical activity, and parenting practices addressed by an intervention. The checklist was feasible for use in EFNEP and questions were understood as intended. Test-retest reliability was good (r = 0.83) and scores correlated significantly (range, 0.25 to -0.60; P < .05) with detailed measures of dietary habits, parental modeling, physical activity, and home environment.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Development and testing in a program context produced a tool community nutritionists can use to evaluate educational interventions aimed at helping parents promote healthful eating and activity.

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