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Building an Effective Nutritional Handout for Underserved Appalachian Ohio

Author: Sarah Gaston
Institution Affiliation: Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine

Introduction: Scioto County has the highest prevalence of diabetes in the state of Ohio, and our goal was to develop an effective nutritional resource for this population that could be utilized by the Southern Ohio Medical Center Family Medicine clinic. Effectiveness was defined as increasing awareness, understanding, and empowerment in patients concerning healthy nutritional choices. In the process, we also wanted to better understand how to communicate important concepts about food and nutrition. Methods: Drawing from discussions with patients, we created a brochure to address common questions about diet. We held a focus group to discuss patient perceptions about what diet and nutrition topics are most confusing and what they would like to learn more about and then surveyed patients in the clinic on the efficacy of the brochure. Results: We found that diet and nutrition are common sources of confusion and many patients experience frustration with the advice they receive from the medical community. Patients responded positively to the handout, reporting that it helped clarify confusing topics about diet and nutrition, and they were more likely to make changes after reading it. Conclusion: Patients appreciated our encouraging approach to nutrition education and our efforts to communicate the “why” and “how” to make healthy choices rather than instructing “what” choices to make. This style of communication can be implemented in future education topics that our patients expressed interest in, such as how to read nutrition facts labels.

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