Effectiveness of a nutrition education program for women in a residential program after incarceration

Francis Dang, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Background: The number of incarcerated women has increased dramatically over the past two decades. During their stay in prison, the medical and nutritional needs of these women are frequently ignored. Overweight or obesity related to poor dietary habits and low-income status are important risk factors for health inequities. Women in this population are at risk for dietary-related chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. This is an indication that there is a need for nutrition education in this population. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to provide an evidence-based nutrition education program at a facility for previously incarcerated women in Downtown Houston, Texas (Brigid's Hope). This nutrition education program focused on promoting better health and prevention of chronic diseases by increasing fruit and vegetable (FV) intake and healthy eating on a limited budget. Constructs such as knowledge, skills, self-efficacy, and perceived barriers were evaluated as well as acceptability, feasibility, and sustainability of the program. Methods: The Hope for Health Nutrition Education Program occurred in four weekly sessions at Brigid's Hope. The evaluation design was a one-group quasi-experimental design with pre- and post-test measures. Identical pre- and post-tests were administered before and after the intervention. A total of 11 residents and 2 staff members participated in the study. Results: After four nutrition education sessions, post-tests revealed an overall increase in knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy scores, and decrease in perceived barrier scores towards FV consumption. Changes in skills, self-efficacy, and perceived barriers scores were found to be statistically significant. Participant satisfaction surveys revealed overall high satisfaction of the program and that continuing the program in the future would be possible with support from staff member and mentors. Conclusions: Results from this study show that a nutrition education program can have positive effects towards knowledge, skills, self-efficacy, and perceived barriers towards FV consumption for previously incarcerated women. The high satisfaction for this program shows that a health promotion program with focus on diet and nutrition can play an important role in helping this unique population of women re-enter society.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Criminology|Health education

Recommended Citation

Dang, Francis, "Effectiveness of a nutrition education program for women in a residential program after incarceration" (2012). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1519342.