Study Co-Authored by MVA Program Manager Finds That Giving a Voice to Users Makes a Better Mobile App for WIC

Study Co-Authored by MVA Program Manager Finds That Giving a Voice to Users Makes a Better Mobile App for WIC

NASHVILLE, Tenn. In a recent paper published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) Program Manager Jessica Jones, MS, joined other researchers to explore the creation of a data-driven mobile app for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

As a critical gateway to health for many families, the WIC program provides nutrition to low-income pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as young children.

“This particular project was about identifying app features that would be most beneficial to the user,” Jessica said. “We interviewed parents and had them participate in a card sorting activity. We wanted to know what was important to them.”

The results of this card sorting activity indicated that balance checking, an item scanner, and appointment reminder ranked as the features most desired by WIC users. Other features of the app included nutrition training, a store locator, recipe galleries and a produce calculator.

“We wanted to know what would help WIC parents shop better and be able to utilize all of their benefits,” Jessica explained. “For example, if there’s an item that’s misplaced on the shelf, and not under the WIC label, participants can use the barcode scanner in the app to see if it’s a WIC eligible item.”

Summer Joy Weber, PhD, RD, lead author on the study, emphasized the potential of this research, and that there was still a great deal of work ahead: “What comes next is that we’re still developing this app for the USDA, and we still need to interview a larger breadth of client. We’re trying to not just reach WIC participants, but all low-income families.”

Read the paper in its entirety here.


About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.