Factors influencing participation in infant nutrition classes sponsored by Manitoba Health

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Reid, Arlene G.
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The objectives of this study were to determine how parents who participate in the infant nutrition classes sponsored by Manitoba Health differ from those who do not participate; to assess the infant nutrition information needs of parents; and to examine the design and delivery of the classes. A telephone survey method, following social marketing principles, was used to obtain a profile of parents of infants in the Winnipeg Health Region. Pilot interviews were done to help with the design of the questionnaire. The survey was conducted with a population of participants (n=55) and a systematic random sample of non-participants (n:122), between September and December, 1995. It was previously known that the majority of participants are first time parents, and that the majority of non-participants have other children. This study provides a further comparison showing that non-participants are more likely to be of a lower socioeconomic status, in terms of education, employment and income; perceive fewer benefits to attending; and perceive a greater number of barriers to participation, such as time, effort and lack of babysitting. Very few (n=15) respondents cited attending a class as their preferred method for receiving information. Reading material was one of the most frequently cited preferences, some indicating that they would like to receive it in the mail, and other saying they would like this material in conjunction with a professional to call. This study also illustrates that the promotion of the classes is not comprehensive or consistent. It is concluded that particular segments of the target population are not being reached, including those with other children, and those with a lower socioeconomic status. Attending a class was not frequently cited as a preferred method for receiving information, therefore, it is recommended to either change the format to address barriers to participation, or consider other approaches which will appeal to a larger proportion of the target population.