Online Program

Developing a policy research agenda for healthy food access in rural communities: A transdisciplinary concept mapping approach

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 9:10 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.

Donna B. Johnson, PhD, RD, Department of Health Services and Nutritional Sciences Program, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Emilee Quinn, MPH, Center for Public Health Nutrition, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Alice Ammerman, DrPH, Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Carmen Byker, PhD, Department of Health and Human Development, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT
Wesley Dean, PhD, Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, School of Rural Public Health, College Station, TX
Sheila Fleischhacker, PhD, JD, Division of Nutrition Research Coordination, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD
Jane Kolodinsky, PhD, Community Development and Applied Economics/ Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Courtney Pinard, PhD, Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition, Omaha, NE
Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, PhD, Department of Public Health, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Joseph R. Sharkey, PhD MPH RD, Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, Texas A&M Health Science Center, School of Public Health, College Station, TX
Marilyn Sitaker, MPH, Battelle Centers for Public Health Research & Evaluation, Seattle, WA
Introduction: Rural communities have high rates of nutrition-related disease and obesity. Rural residents often face unique barriers to accessing healthy, affordable foods. Many food access studies focus on urban communities and measures have often not been validated in rural settings. Policy and environmental change approaches would benefit from additional research that examines rural contexts. In 2011, participants of the CDC-funded Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network Rural Food Access Working Group (RFAWG) formed to conduct collaborative transdisciplinary policy research to address these concerns. Methods: Using concept mapping methodology, RFAWG researchers collected data from approximately 200 rural food access experts throughout the United States. Participants identified issues perceived as important to the topic and then prioritized those ideas for research and policy development. A subset of participants sorted the ideas, and researchers used aggregate results to create concept maps. Results: Concept maps included five high-level domains (Food and Nutrition Assistance; Food Retail and Availability; Food Production; Consumer Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviors; and Data and Policy) and 17 lower-level domains (e.g., Agricultural Pathways, Healthy Food in Institutions, Price and Financial Resources). Policy research priorities included: 1) Food and nutrition support adaptations; 2) Retail availability and shopping patterns; 3) Food production and distribution capacity; and 4) Economic development and viability and consumer purchasing power. Discussion: Lessons learned from this transdisciplinary approach can inform others interested in developing policy research agendas. The domains and priorities identified can inform future policy research and actions to address access to healthy foods in rural communities.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Identify at least five concepts relevant to rural food access that emerged through a concept mapping methodology. Describe at least three rural food access policy research priorities based on study findings.

Keyword(s): Food and Nutrition, Rural Communities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I managed this study and coordinate the Nutrition and Obesity Prevention Research and Evaluation Network RFAWG. I have expertise in the study and evaluation of policy change efforts, particularly related to healthy food access, based on public health graduation training and eight years of professional experience conducting and managing related projects.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.