Issue addressed: Online systems offer opportunities to provide effective, ongoing support to childcare services to implement dietary guidelines. The study aimed to assess the effectiveness of a dissemination strategy on childcare service: (i) adoption; and (ii) use of an online menu planning program designed to increase compliance with dietary guidelines. Methods: A nonrandomised controlled trial was conducted with long day care services across Australia. All services received an email invitation to access an online evidence-based menu planning program. Services in the intervention also received training, telephone contact and provision of a portable computer tablet to encourage program adoption and use. Outcomes were assessed at the 6-month follow-up using analytics data recorded by the online program. Outcomes included the proportion of services having accessed the program (adoption) and the proportion of services with a current menu entered in the program (use as intended). Results: Twenty-seven interventions and 19 control services took part. At the 6-month follow-up, 100% vs 58% of services had adopted the online menu planning program (OR: 14.67, 95% CI: 2.43-infinity; P < 0.01) and 41% vs 5% of services had a current menu entered in the program (OR: 9.99, 95% CI: 1.01-534.57; P < 0.01) in the intervention and control arms respectively. Conclusions: This study highlights the need for strategies to support adoption and use of an online menu planning program in childcare services if the potential benefits of such a program are to be achieved. Future research should explore the effectiveness of differing strategies to increase adoption and use of online programs at scale. So what?: Strategies to support childcare service uptake and use of online programs are required in order for the potential public health benefits of such technologies to be realised.
- online systems
- randomised trial