Abstract: Assessing Social and Spatial Dimensions of Food Shopping (Society for Prevention Research 27th Annual Meeting)

608 Assessing Social and Spatial Dimensions of Food Shopping

Friday, May 31, 2019
Bayview B (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Madalena Monteban, PhD, Post-doctoral Fellow, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Kimberly Bess, PhD, Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Colleen Walsh, PhD, Assistant Professor, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH
Heather Baily, MA, Doctoral Student, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Susan Flocke, PhD, Professor, Oregon Health Sciences University, Portland, OR
Elaine Borawski, PhD, Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
Darcy Freedman, PhD, Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
INTRODUCTION: Social network methods constitute relevant tools to guide and improve the process of dissemination and implementation (D&I) of interventions adapted to diverse populations. Building on emerging research illuminating the role of social networks in diet related decision-making, we developed social network methods to inform a D&I study called FreshLink. The aim of FreshLink is to improve the reach, adoption, and impact of farmers’ markets among recipients of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) using a peer-to-peer outreach approach.

METHODS: Our mixed-method approach combined participatory social network mapping and semi-structured interviews. The process involves the creation of a hand-drawn map of the people and places involved in participants’ food shopping habit. Participants first wrote a list of the places where they get food and then provided details regarding each including: why they go, how they get there, who they go with, who they know, and their social and general experiences. Social network data were analyzed by calculating frequencies of people (alters) involved in participants’ food shopping habits, alter characteristics, and frequency of shopping at places. Two-mode social network analysis was used to visualize participants’ food shopping places and the nature of ties with alters at each place. Semi-structured interview data were analyzed employing inductive and deductive analyses. Deductive analysis focused on purely social interactions not related to food procurement, information exchange related to food procurement, and material exchange including benefits received through a relationship with staff. Inductive analysis focused on perceptions of social interactions at food procurement places.

RESULTS: Findings from 30 interviews offered guidance about 1) where social connections are high (i.e., food pantries and convenience stores) and may be more easily tapped into for dissemination of information and resources, 2) the value of having purely social exchange that may be more normative in food procurement spaces rather than focusing exclusively on healthy eating, and 3) the importance of actors perceived to be trustworthy and who might be an effective disseminator of information (i.e., food pantry staff, convenience store cashiers, farmers’ market vendors).

CONCLUSION: The results of our study were directly useful in the development of a peer-to-peer intervention called FreshLink Ambassadors a food access intervention that seeks to increase social connectedness at farmers’ markets fostering the exchange of information and material resources needed to promote a healthy diet among people receiving SNAP. These methods may also be adapted to conduct social network-based health interventions in new contexts and with new populations.