Technical assistance and changes in nutrition and physical activity practices in the National Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives Project, 2015-2016

Alethea Chiappone, Teresa M. Smith, Paul A. Estabrooks, Cristy Geno Rasmussen, Casey Blaser, Amy L. Yaroch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose and Objectives The National Early Care and Education Learning Collaboratives Project (ECELC) aims to improve best practices in early care and education (ECE) programs in topic areas of the Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment in Child Care (NAP SACC). Technical assistance is a component of the ECELC, yet its effect on outcomes is unclear. Beyond dose and duration of technical assistance, limited research exists on characteristics of technical assistance that contribute to outcomes. The objective of this study was to identify and describe technical assistance characteristics and explore associations with NAP SACC outcomes. Intervention Approach We collected data from 10 collaboratives comprising 84 ECE programs in 2 states in 2015-2016. The objective of technical assistance was to support programs in improving best practices. Technical assistance was provided to programs via on-site, telephone, or email and was tailored to program needs. Evaluation Methods We used a mixed-methods design to examine associations between technical assistance and NAP SACC outcomes. We used multiple regression analysis to assess quantitative data and qualitative comparative analysis to determine necessary and sufficient technical assistance conditions supporting NAP SACC outcomes. We also conducted a document review to describe technical assistance that referred conditions identified by the qualitative comparative analysis. Results Regression analyses detected an inverse relationship between changes in NAP SACC scores and hours of technical assistance. No clear pattern emerged in the qualitative comparative analysis, leaving no necessary and sufficient conditions. However, the qualitative comparative analysis identified feedback as a potentially important component of technical assistance, whereas resource sharing and frequent email were characteristics that seemed to reduce the likelihood of improved outcomes. Email and resource sharing were considered primarily general information rather than tailored technical assistance. Implications for Public Health Technical assistance may be used in programs and made adaptable to program needs. The inclusion and evaluation of technical assistance, especially tailored approaches, is warranted for environmental interventions, including ECE settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number170239
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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