Social Networking for Improved Maternal Child Health in Rural Settings

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 12:00 AM

Autumn Argent, MSN, BSN, RNC-OB, CCE
Education, Northern Arizona Healthcare, Flagstaff, AZ, USA
Erika Ruth Gavenus, MS
NEEP Project, Organic Health Response, Goleta, CA, USA


The purpose of this presentation will be to identify key areas of replication of a social networking nutrition program that took place in a remote area of Kenya, Africa, and the development of similar program possibilities in remote areas of northern Arizona amongst the Navajo, Hopi, and Hispanic populations. The social networking nutrition program is an intensive, community led, 12-week nutrition curriculum that supported nutrition interventions for young mothers, pregnant women, infants, children, and their families. The goals of the program were to improve maternal and child health, empower women to practicing exclusive breastfeeding irrespective of their HIV status, improve early childhood nutrition with appropriate child feeding, create awareness in the prevention of malnutrition in Mfangano Island, improve household food security, clear up myths and misconception surrounding family nutrition, and increase male involvement in family health.The specific population of interest within Arizona includes teenage and young mothers who are at higher risk for malnutrition or under-nutrition during pregnancy and breastfeeding due to population disparities. The population served in the Kenyan study included young, single mothers, combined families, widowed mothers, and mothers who were HIV positive. The program goals are applicable to the population being considered for program replication.


A total of seven focus groups were conducted with three participant groups over five weeks during the summer of 2016. Focus groups were conducted in the native Dhuluo language. All focus groups were recorded, transcribed in Dhuluo, translated to English, and then back translated to Dhuluo for verification. Atlas.ti was used for qualitative data analysis. Two independent researchers review the transcripts for themes.


Three themes were identified based on the transcribed information from the focus groups. Nutritional balance: new knowledge of “balanced diet,” diversity of foods, and kitchen gardens. Multi-dimensional support: community, social network, family, support; reduced incidence of disease; knowledge sharing; increased involvement of partner in choosing food and childcare. Community collaboration: increased business opportunities for women, increased food trading, and improved childcare.


The nutrition curriculum program showed great success while in practice, but success was not sustained long after the curriculum sessions ended. Recommendations, based on the identified themes, were provided to the community based organization for program revisions and expansion. Further research needs to be done to identify key geographic areas for program modification and expansion in Arizona.