Deakin University
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The digital education to limit salt in the home program improved salt-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in parents

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BACKGROUND: Currently, Australian children and adults are eating too much salt, increasing their risk of cardiovascular-related conditions. Web-based programs provide an avenue to engage the parents of primary schoolchildren in salt-specific messages, which may positively impact their own salt-related knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (KABs). OBJECTIVE: This pilot study aimed to determine whether parents' salt-related KABs improved following participation in the Digital Education to LImit Salt in the Home (DELISH) Web-based education program. METHODS: The DELISH program was a 5-week, home-delivered, Web-based intervention, with a pre- and posttest design, targeting schoolchildren aged 7 to 10 years and their parents. Parents received weekly Web-based educational newsletters and text messages and completed online pre- and postprogram surveys assessing salt-related KABs. Upon completion of the program, all parents were also invited to complete an online evaluation survey. Changes in KABs outcomes were assessed using McNemar tests and paired t tests. RESULTS: Of the 80 parents that commenced the program, 73 parents (mean age 41.0, SD 7.0 years; 86% (63/73) females) completed both pre- and postsurveys. Overall, mean score for salt-related knowledge improved (+3.6 [standard error (SE) 0.41] points), and mean behavior score also improved (+4.5 [SE 0.61] points), indicating a higher frequency of engaging in behaviors to reduce salt in the diet, and mean attitude score decreased (-0.7 [SE 0.19] points), representing lower importance of using salt to enhance the taste of food (all P<.001). Following participation, the proportion of parents aware of the daily salt intake recommendation increased from 40% (29/73) to 74% (54/73) (P<.001), and awareness of bread as the main source of salt increased from 58% (42/73) to 95% (69/73) (P<.001). The proportion of parents who agreed that salt should be used in cooking to enhance the flavor of food decreased from 30% (22/73) to 11% (8/73) (P=.002) and the proportion who agreed that sodium information displayed on food labels was difficult to understand decreased from 52% (38/73) to 32% (23/73) (P=.009). There was a reduction in the proportion of parents who reported adding salt during cooking (55% [40/73] vs 41% [30/73]; P=.03) and at the table (32% [23/73] vs 18% [13/73]; P=.002). Of the 16 parents who completed the evaluation survey, 75% (12/16) enjoyed the program, and all parents found the newsletters to be useful. Almost all parents (15/16, 94%) agreed that the DELISH program would be useful to other parents. CONCLUSIONS: The improvement in salt-related KABs in the DELISH program indicates the potential for online technology, to disseminate simple salt reduction education messages to families with primary school-aged children. Future work should seek to improve the quality of data collected by including a larger sample size and a control group to integrate the program within the school setting to enable wider dissemination.



Journal of medical internet research





Article number



JMIR Publications


Toronto, Ont.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, Durreajam Khokhar 2019, Caryl Anne Nowson, Claire Margerison, Madeline West, Karen J. Campbell, Alison Olivia Booth, Carley Ann Grimes