Focus group responses of potential participants in a nutrition education program for individuals with limited literacy skills

Terryl J. Hartman, Pamela R. McCarthy, Rosemarie J. Park, Ellen Schuster, Lawrence H. Kushi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective To obtain information to direct the design and development of a nutrition intervention program targeted at a low-literacy audience. Subjects Thirty-nine female and two male clients of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) participated in five focus-group discussions. The focus groups included 23 African American, 9 white, 4 Southeast Asian, 1 American Indian, 2 Hispanic American, and 2 Middle Eastern EFNEP participants. Design All focus groups were moderated and co-moderated by University of Minnesota staff members. The focus groups were tape-recorded and transcribed. A written report was generated based on the independent evaluation of two staff members. Results We learned that EFNEP participants thought they would be motivated to change their eating habits for health concerns, including weight loss, and to help their families develop healthful eating habits. They mentioned several barriers to making changes, including extra time and money needed to purchase and prepare healthful foods, food preferences of family members, lack of interest and skills in cooking, and insufficient knowledge about which foods are healthful. Participants shared ideas for program content and delivery. Conclusions Clients with limited literacy skills have valuable opinions and insights that program developers targeting this hard-to-reach group should hear. The EFNEP participants wanted simple, practical, and relevant information about what foods to eat and how to prepare them. They considered lectures an ineffective way to receive nutrition information, and they expressed a preference for hands-on activities that were enjoyable and allowed participants to share ideas and experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)744-748
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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