Effectiveness of different methods for delivering tailored nutrition education to low income, ethnically diverse adults

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2009 May 5;6:24. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-6-24.


Background: Computer-tailored written nutrition interventions have been shown to be more effective than non-tailored materials in changing diet, but continued research is needed. Your Healthy Life/Su Vida Saludable (YHL-SVS) was an intervention study with low income, ethnically diverse, English and Spanish-speaking participants to determine which methods of delivering tailored written nutrition materials were most effective in lowering fat and increasing fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake.

Methods: YHL-SVS was a randomized controlled trial with four experimental conditions: 1) Nontailored (NT) comparison group; 2) Single Tailored (ST) packet; 3) Multiple Tailored (MT) packet mailed in four installments; 4) Multiple Re-Tailored (MRT) MT packets re-tailored between mailings via brief phone surveys. A baseline telephone survey collected information for tailoring as well as evaluation. Follow-up evaluation surveys were collected 4- and 7-months later. Primary outcomes included F&V intake and fat related behaviors. Descriptive statistics, paired t-test and ANOVA were used to examine the effectiveness of different methods of delivering tailored nutrition information.

Results: Both the ST and MT groups reported significantly higher F&V intake at 4-months than the NT and MRT groups. At 7 months, only the MT group still had significantly higher F&V intake compared to the NT group. For changes in fat-related behaviors, both the MT and MRT groups showed more change than NT at 4 months, but at 7 months, while these differences persisted, they were no longer statistically significant. There was a significant interaction of experimental group by education for change in F&V intake (P = .0085) with the lowest educational group demonstrating the most change.

Conclusion: In this study, tailored interventions were more effective than non-tailored interventions in improving the short-term dietary behaviors of low income, ethnically diverse participants. Delivery of information in multiple smaller doses over time appeared to improve effectiveness. Future studies should determine which variables are mediators of dietary change and whether these differ by participant demographics. Moreover, future research should differentiate the effects of tailoring vs. cultural adaptation in ethnically diverse populations and study the dissemination of tailored interventions into community-based settings.

Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials # NCT00301691.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00301691