Systematic review of control groups in nutrition education intervention research
Background: Well-designed research trials are critical for determining the efficacy and effectiveness of nutrition education interventions. To determine whether behavioral and/or cognition changes can be attributed to an intervention, the experimental design must include a control or comparison condition against which outcomes from the experimental group can be compared. Despite the impact different types of control groups can have on study outcomes, the treatment provided to participants in the control condition has received limited attention in the literature. Methods: A systematic review of control groups in nutrition education interventions was conducted to better understand how control conditions are described in peer-reviewed journal articles compared with experimental conditions. To be included in the systematic review, articles had to be indexed in CINAHL, PubMed, PsycINFO, WoS, and/or ERIC and report primary research findings of controlled nutrition education intervention trials conducted in the United States with free-living consumer populations and published in English between January 2005 and December 2015. Key elements extracted during data collection included treatment provided to the experimental and control groups (e.g., overall intervention content, tailoring methods, delivery mode, format, duration, setting, and session descriptions, and procedures for standardizing, fidelity of implementation, and blinding); rationale for control group type selected; sample size and attrition; and theoretical foundation. Results: The search yielded 43 publications; about one-third of these had an inactive control condition, which is considered a weak study design. Nearly two-thirds of reviewed studies had an active control condition considered a stronger research design; however, many failed to report one or more key elements of the intervention, especially for the control condition. None of the experimental and control group treatments were sufficiently detailed to permit replication of the nutrition education interventions studied. Conclusions: Findings advocate for improved intervention study design and more complete reporting of nutrition education interventions.
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Byrd-Bredbenner, Carol; Wu, Fan Fan; Spaccarotella, Kim; Quick, Virginia; Martin-Biggers, Jennifer; and Zhang, Yingting, "Systematic review of control groups in nutrition education intervention research" (2017). Kean Publications. 1593.