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Getting youth to drink water, not sugar


young man drinking a bottle of water with the text "drink water." Text at the bottom "Make the healthy choice. Give your body the water it needs" NY State Department of HealthResearchers from the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research helped inform new public service advertisements created by the New York Department of Health to educate youth about the dangers of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Researchers working on the ACT for Youth project conducted two rounds of focus groups in the summer/fall of 2017 and spring of 2018 to test possible messages that would encourage young minority males to avoid sugar-sweetened beverages.

“The story demonstrates our ability to conduct research with youth across the state in order to help NYSDOH better serve and reach youth, ultimately helping—we hope-- to improve health,” said Karen Schantz, the communications coordinator for ACT For Youth.

A significant number of youth drink sugary beverages regularly. In one study conducted from 2011-2014, more than 60 percent of adolescent boys drank a sugar-sweetened beverage each day. This is alarming considering there is clear evidence that these beverages are associated with obesity, poor dental health and other health problems.

Amanda Purington, the director of evaluation and research for ACT for Youth, managed the focus groups. In them, groups of adolescent boys from western and central New York answered questions about the definition of “sugary” beverages and how much they consumed, and then evaluated sample ads created to encourage youth to avoid sweetened beverages.

“Many of the young people we talked with thought that sports drinks were healthy drinks and if they engaged in an athletic endeavor, they needed to drink them to replace electrolytes,” Purington said. “So, unfortunately, the marketing by the sports drink companies is working! On the whole, the youth were surprised by the amount of sugar in sports drinks because they really thought they were healthy drinks.”

Youth preferred ads with information, such as the amount of sugar in different kinds of sugary drinks. The most well-received ads struck a balance between providing information and delivering that information in a clear, concise – and often visual – way.

“They also liked having alternatives suggested, like ‘quench your thirst with water instead,’” she said. “But they didn’t just want to be told what to do, they wanted to come to their own conclusions.

“They also wisely acknowledged that a media campaign like this might lead to some short-term behavior change, but may not lead to long-term behavior change, especially in communities where sugary beverages are ingrained in the culture.”

The New York State Department of Health’s media campaign is now live.

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Workshop: How to Conduct Focus Groups, Tuesday, March 14, 2017

 
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How to Conduct Focus Groups
Jane Powers and Mandy Purington, ACT for Youth

Tuesday, March 14, 2017
12:00-2:00 PM
166 MVR Hall



Focus groups are a unique, and sometimes challenging, way to collect qualitative data. During a focus group, participants are asked about their perceptions, opinions, and attitudes in an interactive group setting. This workshop will provide an overview of planning and conducting focus groups, including:

  • defining a focus group
  • designing focus group questions
  • recruiting and preparing for participants
  • facilitation tips and
  • analyzing the data.

Jane Powers, Director, ACT for Youth
Amanda Purington, Amanda Purington, Director of Evaluation & Research, ACT for Youth

To Register:

Please contact Patty Thayer at pmt6@cornell.edu
Lunch will be served.
This workshop is open to all Cornell faculty, staff, and grad students.

event-htdrrws-event-image2Part of an interactive workshop series

Researchers are increasingly conducting studies in community settings and applying for grants that require documentation of real-world impact. Indeed, some funders now require components such as dissemination plans, stakeholder engagement, or community participation. To meet these new demands, researchers may wish to collaborate with non-academic groups and craft research questions and results that inform practice or policy. This series of interactive workshops shares the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research’s extensive experience conducting research in real-world settings and translating empirical findings into practice. Each workshop addresses a key challenge that researchers face in doing translational research and provides practical tools for overcoming obstacles to conducting effective translational research.

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ACT focus group studies connect policy makers with youth voices


Since its inception in 2000, the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence (COE) has sought to enhance efforts to promote the health and well-being of adolescents. As an intermediary funded by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), the COE aims to connect research to practice by applying knowledge about what works in prevention and youth development in communities across the state. But the sharing of information is not a one-way street: the COE also collects wisdom and data from the field, which in turn is used to inform policy and practice.

One illustration of this process is the COE's recent youth focus group study. The COE has often been called upon by the NYSDOH to conduct focus groups on topics of interest in adolescent health, specifically so policy makers and decision makers can hear directly from youth in New York State (NYS). The focus group findings have been incorporated into funding announcements and media campaigns, and used to develop new sexual health initiatives. Recently, the COE partnered with grantees who are working in the field of teen pregnancy prevention to conduct focus groups with youth in order to understand how adolescents think about “family planning,” as well as identify barriers to their accessing reproductive health services. This study was driven by the fact that while significant numbers of adolescents are sexually active, there has been a decline in adolescent use of publicly-funded family planning services, a fact that has been observed nationally as well as in NYS. Major findings from this focus group study support those documented in national studies:

  1. teens want to prevent pregnancy, but they have misconceptions about and negative views of birth control methods; and
  2. utilization of family planning services can be improved by attending to several factors including teen perceptions of stigma, discomfort, and lack of privacy.

These findings are outlined in a recent COE publication, Youth and Family Planning: Findings from a Focus Group Study, which is part of the Research fACTs and Findings series. In addition, the COE has also presented findings to practitioners who work in the area of teen pregnancy prevention, adolescent sexual health, and reproductive health services. By connecting these results directly with those working in the field, the COE is able to reach a wide audience of practitioners, policy makers, and educators who can use the information to inform practice.

(0) Comments.  |   Tags: ACT for Youth    adolescence    focus group    Research in Translation    sexual health   
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