A Mixed Methods Approach to Investigating Food Safety Behavior in a Sample of Native American and Hispanic Caregivers of Young Children

  •  Margaret Siebert    
  •  Christina Perry    
  •  Lindsay O'Connell    
  •  Julie Albrecht    
  •  Kristen Stenger    
  •  Kara Vlasin-Marty    


Foodborne illness (FBI) disproportionately affects children and minority populations in the U.S. A mixed methods convergence model design was used to explore the food safety knowledge and behavior of Native American (NA) and Hispanic (Hisp) caregivers in New Mexico who prepare food for young children in the home. Quantitative and qualitative research methods (a validated food safety knowledge survey (r=.793) and focus group interviews) were implemented in parallel within each ethnic group, the datasets were analyzed separately per group and the results were converged at the point of interpretation. Equal priority was given to each dataset type. The Health Belief Model was used as a theoretical framework to guide qualitative inquiry. An integrative summary of the quantitative and qualitative results was created and meta-inferences identified contradictory and confirmatory elements of the evidence across both groups. A purposeful sample of fifty-five participants in New Mexico (28 NA; 27 Hisp) completed the food safety knowledge survey and participated in focus groups. Quantitative composite mean scores for the Native American (NA) group (M=66%) and Hispanic (His) group (M=65%) indicated low food safety knowledge. A MANOVA conducted to compare the two groups’ mean knowledge scores found no significant difference between groups on the food safety subscales [Wilks’ ? = .852, F(6,44) = 1.278, p = .287, ?2 = .162].The lowest scoring subscale for both groups was ‘cook’, addressing proper cooking methods (NA=.61, Hisp=.55). Mixed methods analyses revealed that participants overall perceived moderate to high self-efficacy regarding safe food preparation, food purchasing, cooking food, and storing of food, however, the related food safety knowledge item scores were low. Food safety knowledge was often inconsistent with reported food safety practices. Moderate/high self-efficacy may provide a false sense of low risk for FBI.

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