Featured Profile: Drs. Jamie Zoellner, RD, PhD and Kathleen Porter, PhD, RD

Drs. Jamie Zoellner, RD, PhD and Kathleen Porter, PhD, RD Photo

Jamie Zoellner, RD, PhD

Dr. Jamie Zoellner is an Associate Professor and Registered Dietitian in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Virginia where she provides leadership for community-based health equity and obesity reduction initiatives. 

She is the Associate Director of UVA Cancer Center Without Walls and working to expand the Cancer Center’s community-based research program in southwest and southside Virginia. Her research includes engaging medically underserved areas in community-based participatory research (CBPR) and discovering solutions to the causes and consequences of limited health literacy.  She focuses on lifestyle risk factors (i.e., diet and physical activity) that have direct relevance to obesity and cancer prevention efforts.  Dr. Zoellner has successfully lead the development and evaluation of SIPsmartER, a health literacy and behavioral intervention that has proven effective at reducing sugar-sweetened beverage consumption among adults in rural Appalachia.  She is currently working in collaboration with four Virginia Department of Health Districts in Appalachia to test the adoption and implementation of the evidence-based SIPsmartER intervention into routine practice.  She also provides leadership for advancing childhood obesity reduction initiatives in the Dan River Region.  She has co-lead the development, implementation, and evaluation of an evidence- and family-based childhood obesity treatment program.  This research involves developing the capacity of health and community systems in the Dan River Region to adopt and sustain evidence-based programs.  Dr. Zoellner’s research program is funded by the National Institutes of Health the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.  She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics and serves on the journal’s Board of Editors, the Research Committee, the STATS Committee, and as an Evidence Analyst for the Academy's Evidence Analysis Library.

Kathleen Porter, PhD, RD

Dr. Kathleen Porter is a PhD-trained, registered dietitian whose research focuses on the implementation and effectiveness of evidenced-based health education programs to reduce the risk for preventable diseases, including cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

She is a Co-I on an NIH/NCI R21-funded type 2 hybrid effectiveness-implementation trial assessing the implementation and effectiveness of SIPsmartER, an evidence-based intervention to reduce sugar-sweetened beverage intake when delivered by health department staff. Dr. Porter is also a leading team member on a project to develop and implement a middle-school version of SIPsmartER for rural middle schools. Previously, she was a key staff member on the effectiveness trial of SIPsmartER, where her research focuses on the implementation and utility of health and media literacy techniques and on the participant experience in the intervention. Dr. Porter’s doctoral work explored the distribution and implementation of nutrition education programs in 614 New York City public elementary schools. She also conducted several small, feasibility studies of cooking-focused nutrition education programs in urban afterschool and summer programs during her doctoral training. In addition to her research experience, Dr. Porter has over ten years of professional experience as a nutrition educator and evaluator.

As designed, the 3 small group classes lasted about 90-120 minutes.  The content of these classes could be spread over more classes with less allotted time for each class.  As one example, the classes could be adapted to 6 sessions lasting 45-60 minute to be delivered in a worksite wellness program.  Also, although it would require additional human resources, the automated IVR calls could be delivered by a practitioner using the semi-structured call scripts that are available.  While this study was tested for effectiveness among rural Appalachia adults, it could be adapted to meet the needs of any adult audience with excessive SSB consumption.  Additional research is needed to extend this research to youth audiences. 

As detailed in the implementation guide, we have developed a developed a number of useful resources to aid in the implementation of SIPsmartER. Example include lesson plans, powerpoint slides of lessons, IVR platform and call scripts, brief missed class recap videos and call scripts, participant handouts, and fidelity checklists. In our experiences, one of the biggest challenges to implementation is the time and resources needed to engage participants who are not attending classes and/or participating in automated IVR calls.

As practitioners adapt and implement this program they should consider several things: 1) are the illustrated examples in the curriculum culturally relevant to the targeted audiences, 2) do the SSB barrier and strategies used in action planning and IVR activities align with the needs of the targeted audience, and 3) does the current program structure meet the needs of the intended audience. The most important program outcome to evaluate among participants is changes in SSB behaviors. This can be measured using the validated BEV-Q which can be administered in about 5 minutes. Evaluating changes in quality of life and BMI should also be considered. We also have a variety an SSB specific theory-based instruments related to media literacy, attitudes, perceived behavioral control, subject norms and intentions that are available for use upon request. Finally, we have a semi-structured exist interview script, intended to be administered post-program, which could aid in program evaluation.

Funded by an NIH/NCI R21 (R21CA202013), we are currently working on a dissemination and implementation trial of SIPsmartER within four medically underserved Virginia Department of Health (VDH) districts in rural Appalachia. Preliminary implementation data reveals successes, challenges, and adaptations needed to integrate and sustain SIPsmartER into real-world practice settings. We also working on youth version of the program, Kids SIPsmartER. Our initial school-based feasibility data for Kids SIPsmartER are promising and we are now pursuing a full-scale effectiveness-implementation trial targeting middle school youth, their caregivers, and teachers in rural Appalachia.

Updated: 03/02/2020 02:32:19