Research Qualitative Research| Volume 114, ISSUE 12, P1923-1931, December 2014

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The RD Parent Empowerment Program Creates Measurable Change in the Behaviors of Low-Income Families and Children: An Intervention Description and Evaluation

Published:October 07, 2014DOI:


      Dietary and physical activity habits are developed early in life and are influenced by family environments. We describe and evaluate an intervention for low-income families to encourage healthy habits. The RD Parent Empowerment Program ( consists of four workshops centered on the 8 Habits of Healthy Children and Families (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation). Registered dietitian nutritionists conduct the workshops in school and community settings using a structured leader guide and tailor the communication and interactive activities to the audience. Participants are parents of young children. Our goals were to use a phenomenologic approach to elicit participant feedback, determine whether participants in the RD Parent Empowerment Program made healthier choices for their families after attending the workshops, and identify which elements of the program participants believed contributed most to its success. The evaluation design used a pragmatic, mixed-methods approach utilizing postintervention focus groups and pre–post intervention scores on the Family Nutrition and Physical Activity (FNPA) survey. All workshop attendees aged 18 years or older were eligible to participate in the evaluation. One hundred twenty-three parents participated in the intervention across seven sites. Focus group results were analyzed using thematic analysis methods to match themes to the main intervention goals. t Tests were used to compare pre- and postintervention FNPA scores and demographic characteristics pooled across sites. FNPA scores significantly improved from pre- to postintervention by a mean of 4.3 FNPA points (6.5%; P<0.01). Focus group participants reported behavior changes as a result of the program and identified the site leaders as integral to the program’s success, triangulating the results. The RD Parent Empowerment Program generates meaningful self-reported behavior change in parents. Long-term sustainability of the changes must be investigated.


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      R. K. Hand is a senior manager, Dietetics Practice Based Research Network, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago, IL.


      A. S. Birnbaum is an evaluation consultant in Montclair, NJ.


      B. J. Carter is director, Healthy Children, Healthy Futures, Healthy Directions, Huntington, NY.


      L. Medrow is a Kids Eat Right Project specialist contractor, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, Chicago, IL.


      K. Brown is national education director, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, Chicago, IL.


      E. Stern is a clinical dietitian, Morrison Healthcare Foodservice at Mountain States Healthy Alliance, Johnson City, TN; at the time of the study, she was a master’s degree candidate, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City.