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Effect of Financial Incentives and Default Options on Food Choices of Adults With Low Income in Online Retail Settings: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Rummo, Pasquale E; Roberto, Christina A; Thorpe, Lorna E; Troxel, Andrea B; Elbel, Brian
IMPORTANCE:Despite recent growth in online redemption of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, no previous work has tested the impact of economic and behavioral economic strategies on food purchasing behaviors in an online grocery retail setting among adults with low income. OBJECTIVE:To examine the extent to which financial incentives and default shopping cart options influence fruit and vegetable purchases. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:This randomized clinical trial used an experimental online grocery store for adults who currently or have ever received SNAP benefits. From October 7 to December 2, 2021, participants were instructed to shop for a week's worth of groceries for their household, with a budget tailored to household size; no payment was taken. INTERVENTIONS:Random assignment to 1 of 4 conditions: no intervention, 50% discount on eligible fruits and vegetables, prefilled shopping carts with tailored fruit and vegetable items (ie, default options), or a combination of the discount and default options. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES:The primary outcome was the percentage of nondiscounted dollars spent on eligible fruit and vegetables per basket. RESULTS:Of 2744 participants, mean (SD) age was 46.7 (16.0) years, and 1447 (52.7%) identified as women. A total of 1842 participants (67.1%) reported currently receiving SNAP benefits and 1492 (54.4%) reported shopping online for groceries in the previous 12 months. Participants spent a mean (SD) 20.5% (23.5%) of total dollars on eligible fruits and vegetables. Compared with no intervention, those in the discount condition spent 4.7% (98.3% CI, 1.7%-7.7%) of more total dollars on eligible fruits and vegetables; those in the default condition, 7.8% (98.3% CI, 4.8%-10.7%) more; and those in the combination condition, 13.0% (98.3% CI, 10.0%-16.0%) more (P < .001 for all). There was no difference between the discount and the default conditions (P = .06), but the effect in the combination condition was significantly larger than both discount and default conditions (P < .001). Default shopping cart items were purchased by 679 participants (93.4%) in the default condition and 655 (95.5%) in the combination condition, whereas 297 (45.8%) in the control and 361 (52.9%) in the discount conditions purchased those items (P < .001). No variation was observed by age, sex, or race and ethnicity, and results were similar when those who reported never shopping online for groceries were excluded. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE:In this randomized clinical trial, financial incentives for fruits and vegetables and default options, especially in combination, led to meaningful increases in online fruit and vegetable purchases among adults with low income. TRIAL Identifier: NCT04766034.
PMID: 36897592
ISSN: 2574-3805
CID: 5448662

Disparities in routine healthcare utilization disruptions during COVID-19 pandemic among veterans with type 2 diabetes

Adhikari, Samrachana; Titus, Andrea R; Baum, Aaron; Lopez, Priscilla; Kanchi, Rania; Orstad, Stephanie L; Elbel, Brian; Lee, David C; Thorpe, Lorna E; Schwartz, Mark D
BACKGROUND:While emerging studies suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic caused disruptions in routine healthcare utilization, the full impact of the pandemic on healthcare utilization among diverse group of patients with type 2 diabetes is unclear. The purpose of this study is to examine trends in healthcare utilization, including in-person and telehealth visits, among U.S. veterans with type 2 diabetes before, during and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, by demographics, pre-pandemic glycemic control, and geographic region. METHODS:We longitudinally examined healthcare utilization in a large national cohort of veterans with new diabetes diagnoses between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2018. The analytic sample was 733,006 veterans with recently-diagnosed diabetes, at least 1 encounter with veterans administration between March 2018-2020, and followed through March 2021. Monthly rates of glycohemoglobin (HbA1c) measurements, in-person and telehealth outpatient visits, and prescription fills for diabetes and hypertension medications were compared before and after March 2020 using interrupted time-series design. Log-linear regression model was used for statistical analysis. Secular trends were modeled with penalized cubic splines. RESULTS:In the initial 3 months after the pandemic onset, we observed large reductions in monthly rates of HbA1c measurements, from 130 (95%CI,110-140) to 50 (95%CI,30-80) per 1000 veterans, and in-person outpatient visits, from 1830 (95%CI,1640-2040) to 810 (95%CI,710-930) per 1000 veterans. However, monthly rates of telehealth visits doubled between March 2020-2021 from 330 (95%CI,310-350) to 770 (95%CI,720-820) per 1000 veterans. This pattern of increases in telehealth utilization varied by community type, with lowest increase in rural areas, and by race/ethnicity, with highest increase among non-hispanic Black veterans. Combined in-person and telehealth outpatient visits rebounded to pre-pandemic levels after 3 months. Despite notable changes in HbA1c measurements and visits during that initial window, we observed no changes in prescription fills rates. CONCLUSIONS:Healthcare utilization among veterans with diabetes was substantially disrupted at the onset of the pandemic, but rebounded after 3 months. There was disparity in uptake of telehealth visits by geography and race/ethnicity.
PMID: 36647113
ISSN: 1472-6963
CID: 5410652

A matched analysis of the association between federally-mandated smoke-free housing policies and health outcomes among Medicaid-enrolled children in subsidized housing, 2015-2019, New York City

Titus, Andrea R; Mijanovich, Tod N; Terlizzi, Kelly; Ellen, Ingrid G; Anastasiou, Elle; Shelley, Donna; Wyka, Katarzyna; Elbel, Brian; Thorpe, Lorna E
Smoke-free housing policies are intended to reduce the deleterious health effects of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure, but there is limited evidence regarding their health impacts. We examined associations between implementation of a federal smoke-free housing rule by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and pediatric Medicaid claims for asthma, lower respiratory infections (LRIs), and upper respiratory infections (URIs) in the early post-policy period. We used geocoded address data to match children living in tax lots with NYCHA buildings (exposed to policy) to children living in lots with other subsidized housing (unexposed to policy). We constructed longitudinal difference-in-differences models to assess relative changes in monthly rates of claims between November 1, 2015 and December 31, 2019 (policy introduction was July 30, 2018). We also examined effect modification by baseline age group (0-2, 3-6, 7-15). In NYC, introduction of a smoke-free policy was not associated with lower rates of Medicaid claims for any outcomes in the early post-policy period. Exposure to the smoke-free policy was associated with slightly higher than expected rates of outpatient URI claims (IRR=1.05, 95% CI=1.01, 1.08), a result most pronounced among children ages 3-6. Ongoing monitoring is essential to understanding long-term health impacts of smoke-free housing policies.
PMID: 35551590
ISSN: 1476-6256
CID: 5214782

Response to Widome

Titus, Andrea R; Elbel, Brian; Shelley, Donna; Anastasiou, Elle; Thorpe, Lorna E
PMID: 36269016
ISSN: 1476-6256
CID: 5360602

Long-term Trends in secondhand smoke exposure in high-rise housing serving low-income residents in New York City: Three-Year Evaluation of a federal smoking ban in public housing, 2018-2021

Anastasiou, Elle; Gordon, Terry; Wyka, Katarzyna; Tovar, Albert; Gill, Emily; Rule, Ana M; Elbel, Brian; Kaplan, Sue; Shelley, Donna; Thorpe, Lorna E
INTRODUCTION/BACKGROUND:In July 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development passed a rule requiring public housing authorities to implement smoke-free housing (SFH) policies. We measured secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure immediately before, and repeatedly up to 36 months post-SFH policy implementation in a purposeful sample of 21 New York City (NYC) high-rise buildings (>15 floors): 10 NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings subject to the policy and 11 privately managed buildings in which most residents received housing vouchers (herein 'Section 8'). METHODS:We invited participants from non-smoking households (NYCHA n=157, Section 8 n=118) to enroll into a longitudinal air monitoring study, measuring (1) nicotine concentration with passive, bi-sulfate-coated filters, and (2) particulate matter (PM2.5) with low-cost particle sensors. We also measured nicotine concentrations and counted cigarette butts in common areas (n=91 stairwells and hallways). We repeated air monitoring sessions in households and common areas every 6 months, totaling six post-policy sessions. RESULTS:After three years, we observed larger declines in nicotine concentration in NYCHA hallways than in Section 8, [difference-in-difference (DID) = -1.92 µg/m 3 (95% CI -2.98, -0.87), p=0.001]. In stairwells, nicotine concentration declines were larger in NYCHA buildings, but the differences were not statistically significant [DID= -1.10 µg/m 3 (95% CI -2.40, 0.18), p=0.089]. In households, there was no differential change in nicotine concentration (p=0.093) or in PM2.5 levels (p=0.385). CONCLUSIONS:Nicotine concentration reductions in NYCHA common areas over three years may be attributable to the SFH policy, reflecting its gradual implementation over this time. IMPLICATIONS/CONCLUSIONS:Continued air monitoring over multiple years has demonstrated that SHS exposure may be declining more rapidly in NYCHA common areas as a result of SFH policy adherence. This may have positive implications for improved health outcomes among those living in public housing, but additional tracking of air quality and studies of health outcomes are needed. Ongoing efforts by NYCHA to integrate the SFH policy into wider healthier-homes initiatives may increase policy compliance.
PMID: 36041039
ISSN: 1469-994x
CID: 5337652

Evaluating the outcomes and implementation determinants of interventions co-developed using human-centered design to promote healthy eating in restaurants: an application of the consolidated framework for implementation research

Fuster, Melissa; Dimond, Emily; Handley, Margaret A; Rose, Donald; Stoecker, Charles; Knapp, Megan; Elbel, Brian; Conaboy, Cara; Huang, Terry T K
BACKGROUND:Restaurants are an emerging yet underutilized setting to facilitate healthier eating, particularly among minoritized communities that disproportionately experience health inequities. The present study aimed to examine outcomes from interventions co-developed using Human-Centered Design (HCD) in two Latin American restaurants, including sales of healthier menu items (HMI) and the consumer nutrition environment. In addition, we aimed to assess implementation outcomes (acceptability, fidelity, and sustainability) and elucidate the determinants for implementation using the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. METHODS:based on CFIR. RESULTS:The HCD-tailored interventions had different outcomes. In restaurant one (R1), where new HMI were introduced, we found an increase in HMI sales and improvements in NEMS-R scores. In restaurant two, where existing HMI were promoted, we found no significant changes in HMI sales and NEMS-R scores. Acceptance was high among customers and staff, but fidelity and sustainability differed by restaurant (high in R1, low in R2). Barriers and facilitators for implementation were found across all CFIR constructs, varying by restaurant and intervention. Most relevant constructs were found in the inner setting (restaurant structure, implementation climate), individual characteristics, and process (HCD application). The influence of outer setting constructs (policy, peer pressure) was limited due to lack of awareness. CONCLUSION:Our findings provide insights for interventions developed in challenging and constantly changing settings, as in the case of restaurants. This research expands the application of CFIR to complex and dynamic community-based settings and interventions developed using HCD. This is a significant innovation for the field of public health nutrition and informs future interventions in similarly dynamic and understudied settings.
PMID: 37275479
ISSN: 2296-2565
CID: 5541612

The link between gentrification, children's egocentric food environment, and obesity

Rick, Christopher; Han, Jeehee; Elbel, Brian; Schwartz, Amy Ellen
While advocates argue that gentrification changes the neighborhood food environment critical to children's diet and health, we have little evidence documenting such changes or the consequences for their health outcomes. Using rich longitudinal, individual-level data on nearly 115,000 New York City children, including egocentric measures of their food environment and BMI, we examine the link between neighborhood demographic change ("gentrification"), children's access to restaurants and supermarkets, and their weight outcomes. We find that children in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods see increased access to fast food and wait-service restaurants and reduced access to corner stores and supermarkets compared to those in non-gentrifying areas. Boys and girls have higher BMI following gentrification, but only boys are more likely to be obese or overweight. We find public housing moderates the relationship between gentrification and weight, as children living in public housing are less likely to be obese or overweight.
PMID: 37261106
ISSN: 1051-1482
CID: 5543372

Exposure to local violent crime and childhood obesity and fitness: Evidence from New York City public school students

Laurito, Agustina; Schwartz, Amy Ellen; Elbel, Brian
This paper estimates the relationship between neighborhood violent crime and child and adolescent weight and fitness. It uses detailed data from the Fitnessgram assessments of public school students in New York City matched to point specific crime data geocoded to students' residential location. Our empirical approach compares the weight and fitness outcomes of students exposed to a violent crime on their residential H-block with those living in the same census tract but not exposed to violent crime in close proximity to their home. We find for adolescent girls, increases in BMI that range from 0.01 to 0.035 standard deviations and an increase in the probability of overweight of 0.5 to 1.7 percentage points. We find little evidence that BMI, obesity, and overweight change as a result of violent crime for adolescent boys, and younger children. Results are not explained by declines in physical fitness.
PMID: 36401938
ISSN: 1873-2054
CID: 5382752

Age-Specific Differences in Online Grocery Shopping Behaviors and Attitudes among Adults with Low Income in the United States in 2021

Rummo, Pasquale E; Roberto, Christina A; Thorpe, Lorna E; Troxel, Andrea B; Elbel, Brian
BACKGROUND:Online grocery shopping has surged in popularity, but we know little about online grocery shopping behaviors and attitudes of adults with low income, including differences by age. METHODS:= 3526). Participants completed an online survey designed to assess diet and online food shopping behaviors. Using logistic regression, we examined the relationship between participant characteristics, including age, and the likelihood of online grocery shopping, and separately examined variation in the reasons for online grocery shopping by age. RESULTS:&lt; 0.001)). CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:Strategies for making online grocery shopping more affordable for adults with lower income may be promising, especially online produce. For older adults, additional support may be needed to make online shopping a suitable replacement for in-store shopping, such as education on technology and combining it with opportunities for social support.
PMID: 36297112
ISSN: 2072-6643
CID: 5358122

Analysis of School-Level Vaccination Rates by Race, Ethnicity, and Geography in New York City

Elbel, Brian; Zhou, Geng Eric; Lee, David C; Chen, Willy; Day, Sophia E; Konty, Kevin J; Schwartz, Amy Ellen
PMID: 36107432
ISSN: 2574-3805
CID: 5332912