Health Promotion Projects on Food Avoidance

Changes in dietary intake among cancer patients are common. Such dietary changes are culturally specific. Many Chinese cancer patients consult Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctors. In TCM, various food items are supposed to be beneficial or harmful to the body of the healthy and diseased. Different TCM practitioners may however, hold different views on cancer patients’ need to avoid particular food items. There are also folk beliefs about food avoidance among the general public and cancer patients. Hence, there are cancer patients practicing food avoidance behaviors but the prevalence and factors behind it is largely unknown. Also, it is not sure if cancer patients practicing food avoidance behavior are at risk of nutritional imbalance and deficiency.

Let’s Eat Well Project – a social marketing program to address issues of food avoidance problems among cancer patients

 

Objectives

To design and implement a social marketing campaign aiming at addressing issues related to food avoidance problems among cancer patients.

Project

An intervention booklet was developed by an expert panel based on social marketing principle. It was then disseminated in settings accessible to cancer patients. Simple questionnaire survey was then carried out to evaluate its effectiveness. An information website was launched and a press release was also done to maximize the effects’ coverage.

Target group

Three hundred and three cancer patients who have been practicing food avoidance. They were divided into two groups, with one group being exposed to the intervention booklet and the other group received additional motivational interviewing. Another 60 cancer patients without being exposed to the intervention served as the control group.

Expected and actual outcome/response

The participants’ awareness about food avoidance was expected to enhance after intervention. Actual outcome showed that there was a significant improvement in intervention group participants’ 1) cognition about food avoidance, 2) intention to improve dietary practice, and 3) intention to seek dietary advice from healthcare professionals.

Benefits derived

Given the fact that the number of cancer patients is continuously rising and that faulty dietary messages are from various sources, the deliverable of this project serves as a protection gateway to defense cancer patients’ nutrition health if it is effectively disseminated.

Extent of objectives achieved

The evaluation outcome shows the objectives of the current project were mostly achieved.

Conclusions/Implications

The result of this project demonstrated a successful application of social market to promote nutrition health among diseased population. It also served as an example of collaboration between western and Chinese medicine in health promotion.

Funded by the Health Care and Promotion Fund (Ref: 26120064)

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