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Research to support the evaluation and implementation of adult cooking skills interventions in the UK: pilot RCT with process and economic evaluations [ISRCTN 91580447]

Lookup NU author(s): Joel Halligan, Dr Nicki O'Brien, Dr Frauke Becker, Louis Goffe, Dr Heather BrownORCiD, Professor Luke ValeORCiD, Dr Deborah Stocken, Professor Ashley AdamsonORCiD, Dr Jean Adams, Professor Martin White


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This study adds to the evidence base around cooking skills and cooking skills interventions, including knowledge on the prevalence and patterning of cooking skills in the general population in the UK, the theoretical basis and likely feasibility of a cooking skills intervention, the feasibility of a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of a cooking skills intervention, and the likely approach for conducting an embedded economic evaluation. The results of work package (WP) 1 – analysis of the UK’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey – has established that the prevalence of self-reported cooking skills in the UK is high and that a majority of respondents say they are confident at cooking a meal from basic ingredients. However, prevalence of cooking skills was socio-demographically patterned, suggesting some groups may be more in-need of cooking skills than others. This WP also highlights the difficulties in accurately measuring cooking skills and the potential biases in asking people to self-report their cooking skill ability. The results of WP2 – analysis of the course manual and observations of intervention classes – adds to the knowledge base around the theoretical basis, and likely ‘active ingredients’, of a cooking skills intervention, in addition to the behaviour change techniques that might be reasonable to incorporate into a structured cooking skills intervention. The observations add to the evidence base around the challenges of evaluating of cooking skills, and similar, interventions. The results of WP3 – pilot RCT including qualitative study – add to the knowledge base around the feasibility of conducting a definitive RCT of a cooking skills intervention. We have established that: recruitment of those identified as ‘most in need’ is possible; that randomisation to an intervention or control arm is feasible; that levels of loss to follow-up are not likely to be prohibitive of a definitive trial; and that the methods of data collection are feasible, including 24-hour recalls to collect dietary data and a questionnaire to collect other data around cooking skills and wider impacts. The qualitative study adds to the evidence base about the acceptability of cooking skills interventions and their likely impacts, from the perspective of both participants and stakeholders. This knowledge will be useful for those designing future interventions or evaluation of cooking skills interventions. The result of WP4 – pilot economic evaluation – highlight some of the difficulties in collecting cost data, both from participants and from intervention providers who are not under jurisdiction of the research team. These data add to the knowledge base of likely response rates for collecting grocery spend data from participants.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Halligan J, O'Brien N, Purves R, Becker F, Goffe L, Brown H, Vale L, Stocken D, Adamson A, Adams J, Stead M, White M

Publication type: Report

Publication status: Published

Series Title:

Year: 2015

Acceptance date: 18/04/2016

Institution: Public Health Research Consortium

Place Published: London, UK