2013 Pilot Study 5

Title: Using Community Based Participatory Research to address oral health in NYC MOW recipients

Investigator: Kavita P. Ahluwalia, DDS, MPH; Associate Professor of Clinical Dental Medicine, Columbia University, College of Dental Medicine

Overview: Community-based senior services, such as case management, transportation, senior centers, etc., are designed to help the growing number of community-dwelling older adults maintain independence and prevent institutionalization. One such service, daily home meal delivery, also known as Meals-on-Wheels (MOW), is designed to provide food and nutrition for a particularly vulnerable subset of older adults — those who are unable to prepare meals due to cognitive and/or physical impairments and who, without the service would be unable to remain in the community. Although MOW has frequent household contact with recipients, has been in existence for almost 40 years, and serves one million Americans daily, there has been little systematic examination of its potential utility to provide health promotion/disease prevention messages and/or interventions, which may prove to be critical for the prevention of future institutionalization.  We have chosen to address oral health because it is central to food consumption, and is important to ensuring the MOW delivers meals recipients can actually eat.  The goal of this on-going work is to bring together MOW stakeholders and researchers to collaborate on capacity-building and future funding initiatives to translate and integrate evidence-based oral health promotion and disease prevention into the MOW systems.