From Paper to Practice: Barriers to Adopting Nutrition Guidelines in Schools

Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Journal of nutrition education and behavior (Impact Factor: 1.36). 11/2011; 44(2):114-22. DOI: 10.1016/j.jneb.2011.04.005
Source: PubMed


To explore the barriers associated with the adoption of the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth in schools according to characteristics of the innovation (guidelines) and the organization (schools).
Cross-sectional telephone survey.
Schools in Alberta, Canada. Principals from 357 schools.
Barriers to adopting the nutrition guidelines.
A 19-question telephone survey, including open- and closed-ended questions, was used to obtain information regarding schools' characteristics and barriers to adopting the guidelines. Qualitative data were coded according to common themes a priori, based on constructs from the Diffusion of Innovations framework.
Schools reported many barriers related to the relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity of adopting the guidelines. Parents' resistance to change and cost were the key reported barriers. Lack of knowledge, student preferences, the physical location of the school, and barriers related to the provision of healthful food were also reported.
Disseminating guidelines without providing adequate support for their implementation may not promote change within the school setting. School nutrition initiatives need to involve the parents and have access to sufficient financial and human resource support.

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    • "Managers’ commitment to the nutrition guidelines did not extend to using scarce resources to facilitate implementation. Despite the importance of supporting guideline implementation with additional financial and human resources [15,32,58,61,70], we were unable to secure these. The lack of nutritional knowledge and reliance on personal knowledge documented in previous studies [58,71] were also identified in the present study; furthermore, the limited training provided, while valued, was insufficient to enable cooks to modify menus and recipes without the continued support of the study dietitian. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Optimizing the dietary intake of older people can prevent nutritional deficiencies and diet-related diseases, thereby improving quality of life. However, there is evidence that the nutritional intake of older people living in care homes is suboptimal, with high levels of saturated fat, salt, and added sugars. The UK Food Standards Agency therefore developed nutrient- and food-based guidance for residential care homes. The acceptability of these guidelines and their feasibility in practice is unknown. This study used the Normalization Process Theory (NPT) to understand the barriers and facilitators to implementing the guidelines and inform future implementation. Methods We conducted a process evaluation in five care homes in the north of England using qualitative methods (observation and interviews) to explore the views of managers, care staff, catering staff, and domestic staff. Data were analyzed thematically and discussed in data workshops; emerging themes were then mapped to the constructs of NPT. Results Many staff perceived the guidelines as unnecessarily restrictive and irrelevant to older people. In terms of NPT, the guidelines simply did not make sense (coherence), and as a result, relatively few staff invested in the guidelines (cognitive participation). Even where staff supported the guidelines, implementation was hampered by a lack of nutritional knowledge and institutional support (collective action). Finally, the absence of observable benefits to clients confirmed the negative preconceptions of many staff, with limited evidence of reappraisal following implementation (reflexive monitoring). Conclusions The successful implementation of the nutrition guidelines requires that the fundamental issues relating to their perceived value and fit with other priorities and goals be addressed. Specialist support is needed to equip staff with the technical knowledge and skills required for menu analysis and development and to devise ways of evaluating the outcomes of modified menus. NPT proved useful in conceptualizing barriers to implementation; robust links with behavior-change theories would further increase the practical utility of NPT.
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