Online training may be a more effective and sustainable way to reach educators in early childcare centres (ECCs). This study compared the effectiveness of an online version of the Healthy Start-Départ Santé (HSDS) training to the traditional in-person version of the training as well as to the usual practice condition on ECC educators' healthy eating (HE) and physical activity (PA) practices and knowledge of PA and fundamental movement skills (FMS). Seventy-eight ECCs were randomly chosen across the provinces of New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, Canada and were allocated to either the online training, the in-person training or the usual practice groups between 2013 and 2018. Educators in each group completed a self-administered questionnaire before and nine months after the intervention, which included questions regarding their HE and PA practices in the ECC, as well as their knowledge of children's FMS and PA. Group differences were assessed with mixed-effect models. Compared to educators in the usual practice group, educators in the online training group reported a greater improvement in scores for HE and PA practices (p = 0.03 and 0.03, respectively), but change for educators in the in-person training group were not different (p = 0.8 and 0.56, respectively). The rate of improvement in FMS and PA knowledge did not differ across all three groups (p = 0.9). The HSDS online training is an effective method of improving educators' HE and PA practices in ECCs. Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov (NCT02375490).
Keywords: Childcare center; ECC, Early childcare centre; Educator; FMS, Fundamental movement skills; HE, Healthy eating; HSDS, Healthy Start-Départ Santé; Healthy eating; NAP SACC, Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment of Child Care; Online intervention; PA, Physical activity; Physical activity.
© 2020 The Author(s).