Redesigning Recruitment and Engagement Strategies for Virtual Culinary Medicine and Medical Nutrition Interventions in a Randomized Trial of Patients with Uncontrolled Type 2 Diabetes

Nutrients. 2023 Sep 25;15(19):4124. doi: 10.3390/nu15194124.


In-person culinary medicine (CM) can improve health behaviors, but its translation to virtual platforms and impact on diabetes outcomes are not well described. We designed a pragmatic trial comparing the effectiveness of virtual CM (eCM) to Medical Nutrition Therapy on diabetes outcomes among patients with uncontrolled diabetes within a safety-net healthcare system. All participants were provided cooking equipment and food from a food pantry. Due to low initial eCM participation, recruitment was paused, and eight semi-structured interviews were conducted to solicit feedback on study appeal, operations, and barriers to participation. Rapid thematic analysis was used to modify study operations. We found that participants were interested in the study and motivated by health concerns. While they valued food distribution and cooking equipment, they highlighted transportation barriers and conflicts with the pick-up time/location. Some eCM participants expressed discomfort with the virtual platform or preferred to observe rather than cook along. Study operations were modified by (1) moving supply pick-up to a familiar community clinic and diversifying food pick-up locations; (2) offering an in-person orientation to the program to increase comfort with the virtual platform; (3) emphasizing the credibility and relatability of the eCM instructor and encouraging participation of family members. This redesign led to the recruitment of 79 participants, of whom 75% attended at least one class. In conclusion, participant feedback informed pragmatic changes in study operations that increased engagement in this ongoing trial and may inform future eCM program design.

Keywords: Type 2 Diabetes; culinary medicine; food insecure; pragmatic; trial engagement.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Ambulatory Care Facilities
  • Cooking
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / therapy
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Therapy*