142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Improving Child Retention in Illinois WIC: Using Formative Research to Identify Promising Practices to Retain Low-Income Families in Nutrition Services

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014 : 11:30 AM - 11:50 AM

Summer Porter, MS, RD , Kinesiology and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL
Molly McGown, MPH , Anthropology and Global Health, University of Illinois Chicago, Chicago, IL
Keriann Uesugi, PhD , Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
LaShon Reese, MEd, RD, LDN, CLC , Illinois WIC Program, Chicago
Stephanie Bess, MS, RD, LDN , Illinois WIC, Springfield, IL
Angela Odoms-Young, PhD , Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Introduction: WIC provides supplemental food, nutrition education, and medical referrals to pregnant/postpartum women, infants and children under the age of 5 who are at nutritional risk. Although the positive impact of WIC on child health is well documented, only about 52% of eligible children participate.  Nevertheless, interventions to retain child participants and their families in WIC are limited.  The objective of this research was to develop a theory-driven, multilevel intervention to improve WIC child retention based on formative research.  

Methods:  Focus groups (n=4), interviews (n=111), and surveys (n=225) were conducted with WIC stakeholders across Illinois including staff, vendors, parents, physicians, and child care providers to understand barriers/facilitators to WIC participation and  strategies to improve child retention.  Descriptive statistics were calculated from survey data using SPSS. Emerged themes were identified from qualitative data using Atlas.ti and constant comparative analysis.

Results: Data revealed several barriers including low perceived value of WIC foods and services, difficulty identifying/purchasing WIC foods, stigma, hectic lifestyles, confusion about WIC eligibility, and limited support from other providers.  Finding informed the development of “WIC to 5”including five key messages regarding WIC benefits (Save, Grow, Nourish, Learn, and Connect), a social marketing campaign, staff-delivered communication strategy, staff empowerment/wellness program,  revised nutrition education module, community outreach, and strategic partnerships with health/child care providers.   Lessons learned engaging WIC stakeholders, statewide data collection and dissemination, and mobilizing partnership across sectors will also be presented.

Discussion:  Findings could inform WIC and other food assistance programs regarding potential strategies to reach low-income families.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Describe factors that influence WIC retention among children in Illinois Identify the challenges and implications of intervening in food assistance programs Discuss the benefits of an innovative, research-based, multi-level intervention to improve participation in food assistance programs, and their alignment with programmatic and policy goals

Keyword(s): WIC, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an author because I am an MS, RD and currently a PhD candidate in the Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition at University of Illinois at Chicago
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.