Psychosocial Measures Used to Assess the Effectiveness of School-based Nutrition Education Programs: Review and Analysis of Self-report Instruments for Children 8 to 12 Years Old

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To identify the psychometric properties of evaluation instruments that measure mediators of dietary behaviors in school-aged children.


Systematic search of scientific databases limited to 1999–2010.

Main Outcome Measures:

Psychometric properties related to development and testing of self-report instruments for children 8–12 years old.


Systematic search of 189 articles and review of 15 instruments (20 associated articles) meeting the inclusion criteria. Search terms used included children, school, nutrition, diet, nutrition education, and evaluation.


Fourteen studies used a theoretical framework to guide the instrument's development. Knowledge and self-efficacy were the most commonly used psychosocial measures. Twelve instruments focused on specific nutrition-related behaviors. Eight instruments included over 40 items and used age-appropriate response formats. Acceptable reliability properties were most commonly reported for attitude and self-efficacy measures. Although most of the instruments were reviewed by experts (n = 8) and/or pilot-tested (n = 9), only 7 were tested using both rigorous types of validity and with low-income youth.

Conclusions and Implications:

Results from this review suggest that additional research is needed to develop more robust psychosocial measures for dietary behaviors, for low-income youth audiences.

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