A comparison of three methods of assessing the nutrition education needs of at-home mothers of preschoolers
Misskey, Eunice Doreen
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Needs assessment is generally recognized as an important component of program planning and decision-making processes. However, a better understanding is required of the relative worth of various methods used to assess educational needs and, particularly, nutrition education needs. This study was designed to investigate the relationship among three methods of needs assessment. More specifically, it compared a perceived needs assessment method with two alternate methods based on assessments of knowledge and food consumption. The four food groups of Canada's Food Guide were used as the basis of comparison among the methods. Home interviews were conducted by the researcher with a selected sample of mothers of three year old children in the Regina Rural Region of Saskatchewan Health. Instruments used during the interviews were developed or adapted to collect data concerning mothers' perceived needs, their nutrition knowledge, the food intake of their preschoolers, and relevant demographic variables. Analysis of the data involved correlating mothers' perception scores with scores based on their nutrition knowledge and on the food consumption of their preschoolers for each of the four food groups. Tabulations of frequencies to provide descriptive information about the characteristics of the sample were also included in the analysis. The findings indicated non-significant correlations for the data in all but one instance. This research, therefore, was not able to support the existence of relationships among the three methods of needs assessment tested in a well educated population of mothers. Although more thorough testing of the instruments used to collect the data is required, the research lends support to the contention that some major differences exist among the three methods of needs assessment investigated and suggests possible implications for program planning.