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Journal Article

Qualitative Research on the Real-Time Decision Making of WIC Participants While Food Shopping: Use of Think-Aloud Methodology

By Robson S, DeLuccia R, Baker S, Bodt B, Trabulsi J


People of lower socioeconomic status often experience disparities related to dietary intake as compared with People of higher socioeconomic status. Foods purchased influence the availability of foods in the home environment, and availability of foods in the home environment is associated with dietary intake.


To identify what factors influence food purchasing decisions of low-income parents while food shopping.


A qualitative study using think-aloud methodology, the processing of information through verbalization concurrent with task performance, was used to verbally capture real-time decision making.

Participants and setting

Twenty-eight parents with a preschool-aged child enrolled in Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Study visits took place at the WIC clinic office and local grocery stores.

Main outcomes

Reasons for making decisions while food shopping.


Audio recordings were transcribed, and thematic analysis was used to analyze the data. Descriptive statistics were used to characterize demographics and shopping behaviors.


A parent’s decision in a food purchase was based on child preference, value, need of an item, or the parent choice for a product. In addition, themes emerged related to participant shopping behavior included the influence of participation in WIC on food and beverage purchases, multiple trips to the store, and a frequent focus on purchasing bottled water and juice. The average shopping trip was 31.5±15.7 minutes, and the median amount spent was $38.61.


Understanding the influences of parent decisions while making food purchases can better help inform the nutrition education provided as part of WIC.

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Date Added
July 15, 2019

Robson S, DeLuccia R, Baker S, Bodt B, Trabulsi J (2019) Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vol. 19, Issue 7. Available online: https://jandonline.org/article/S2212-2672(19)30468-X/pdf