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Facilitators and barriers to patient attendance at a free health center produce market

Zack RM, Rodríguez Bronico JV, Babbin M, Nguyen T, Weil R, Granick J, Fiechtner L, Mulugeta W, Odayar V, Cortes DE
Am J Prev Med


Patient participation in healthcare system‒sponsored efforts to address food insecurity varies widely. This mixed-methods study sought to understand the patient sociodemographic factors associated with and barriers and facilitators to the use of a monthly produce market held at Cambridge Health Alliance in partnership with The Greater Boston Food Bank.


Baseline surveys (N=715) were conducted from February 2019 to March 2020 before market attendance, followed by 1-year follow-up surveys (n=514) and qualitative interviews (n=45). Robust Poisson regression estimated associations between sociodemographic characteristics and market attendance. Analyses were conducted from 2021 to 2022.


A total of 37.1% attended the market ≥1 time. Market attendance was associated with being aged 30–49 years (Risk Ratio (RR)=1.36, 95% CI=1.00, 1.86), having a monthly household income <$1,000 (RR=1.73, 95% CI=1.29, 2.32), identifying as Asian (RR=2.48, 95% CI=1.58, 3.89), having a preferred language for medical care other than English (RR=1.35, 95% CI=1.03, 1.76), being retired (RR=1.90, 95% CI=1.17, 3.08), and living in the city of the market's location (RR=1.36, 95% CI=1.12, 1.63). Barriers included limited time (28%), work conflict (23%), forgetfulness (23%), and not knowing market location/date (22%). Interviews revealed that accessibility barriers (e.g., limited market hours, transportation issues, competing demands, medical conditions, long lines) were obstacles to attendance, whereas access to novel, healthy foods motivated attendance.


Healthcare-based food distributions have the potential to reach patients with unmet food needs who cannot or would not access other forms of food assistance. Time constraints, physical limitations, and transportation challenges impact attendance; program modifications are necessary to improve accessibility.

Zack RM, Rodríguez Bronico JV, Babbin M, et al. Facilitators and barriers to patient attendance at a free health center produce market. Am J Prev Med. 2022;63(3, Supplement 2):S131-S143.

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Peer Reviewed Research
Patient Experience of Care
Social Determinant of Health
Study design
Pre-post without Comparison Group
Other Study Design
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