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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Study will examine care model that integrates WIC program referrals into prenatal visits

DANVILLE, Pa. – Geisinger has been awarded $400,000 from the American Heart Association (AHA) to study the effectiveness of integrating Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program referrals into prenatal clinical care.

Historically, WIC participation has resulted in longer pregnancies, fewer premature births, fewer low birth weight infants and overall health care cost savings. However, these gains have dissolved over the last 20 years as WIC enrollment dropped to less than half of eligible people.

The study will examine if eligible patients referred to WIC during their prenatal appointments enroll in the program and subsequently report improved food security. This “Clinic-WIC” model is recommended in the White House Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Recent studies have shown success with this model in a pediatric population, resulting in a 42% increase in WIC enrollment, but it has not yet been studied during pregnancy.

The study will also explore enhancing the Clinic-WIC model with meal planning and food budgeting skills led by a registered dietitian-nutritionist.  

“This project will help us learn whether simple strategies that clinicians take make it easier for patients to connect with food programs and learn skills to eat heart-healthy meals,” said Lisa Bailey-Davis, D.Ed., R.D., associate professor in Geisinger’s Department of Population Health Sciences and associate director of the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Health.

The grant is part of the AHA’s Health Care by Food™ initiative, which recently announced a total of $7.8 million in funding for 19 nationwide research projects that will examine the effectiveness of “food is medicine” approaches to care.

“Integrating research efforts in collaboration with institutions nationwide will help identify cost-effective Food Is Medicine interventions to improve health and make healthy food an essential component of health care,” said Kevin G. Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., FAHA, research lead of the Association’s Health Care by Food initiative, chair of the writing group of the Association’s Presidential Advisory on Food Is Medicine and director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.

About Geisinger College of Health Sciences
Geisinger College of Health Sciences is the research and education arm of the Geisinger family. Geisinger is committed to making better health easier for the more than 1 million people it serves. Founded more than 100 years ago by Abigail Geisinger, the system now includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, and the College. The College houses a Research Institute, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Geisinger School of Nursing and the School of Graduate Education, in addition to Geisinger graduate medical education programs and its Academy of Educators. The College is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit
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