Leaders' Experiences in Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Complex Public Health Nutrition Interventions

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Objective: To explore California local health department leaders’ experiences planning, implementing, and evaluating nutrition promotion and obesity prevention programs for low-income families. Design: Qualitative, cross-sectional study using semi-structured in-depth interviews and panel interviews conducted in 2015–2016. Setting: California local health departments (LHDs) funded by the California Department of Public Health to implement Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program–Education (SNAP-Ed). Participants: The authors recruited SNAP-Ed leaders from all 58 California LHDs implementing SNAP-Ed. Leaders from 49 LHDs participated: 36 in hour-long, in-depth interviews and 13 in 1 of 3 90-minute group panel interviews. Phenomenon of Interest: Processes, facilitators, and barriers connected to delivering SNAP-Ed reported by leaders in planning, implementing, and evaluating local programs. Analysis: Interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed using Dedoose software. Results: Leaders grappled with introducing, implementing, and integrating policy, systems, and environmental change interventions (PSEs). Information used to make planning decisions varied widely across LHDs. Partnership with nontraditional organizations was described as a resource- intensive, nonlinear process with recognized potential for benefit. Rural programs reported specific and different experiences compared with their urban counterparts. Conclusions and Implications: Implementing new, complex interventions to improve diet and activity environments and behaviors is both exciting and challenging for local leaders. They expressed a desire for additional resources and capacity building to facilitate success, particularly related to policy, systems, and environmental change programs. Attention to the specific needs of rural counties is needed.




Shah, H. D., Adler, J., Ottoson, J., Webb, K., & Gosliner, W. (2019). Leaders’ Experiences in Planning, Implementing, and Evaluating Complex Public Health Nutrition Interventions. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 51(5), 528–538. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2019.02.005

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