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Spice-Healthcare: Dietary assessments for culturally diverse older adults

Turmeric spice roots image

URBANA, Ill. — A cross-campus team of researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, led by Kinesiology and Community Health Assistant Professor Mina Raj, has received two grants to test an online platform designed to help dietitians, clinicians and food service personnel make dietary assessments and care plans that are tailored to patients’ medical and cultural needs. 

The web-based platform to Support Personalized and Inclusive Cuisines in Environments for Healthcare (SPICE-Healthcare), is in line to receive nearly $120,000 in grant support to test its usability with community partner ClarkLindsey Village and other healthcare organizations. 

“We will conduct usability testing locally but also with clinicians from other parts of the country,” Raj said. 

Raj focuses her research at the College of Applied Health Sciences on healthcare administration and disparities, particularly on supporting the needs of diverse older adults and family caregivers. Her preliminary studies inform the purpose of SPICE-Healthcare. 

Collaborators include KCH Associate Professor Naiman Khan, an expert in nutrition and health behaviors and outcomes; Margarita Teran-Garcia, assistant dean and program leader of Integrated Health Disparities at Illinois Extension; Ian Brooks, director of Center of Health Informatics; and Lisa Gatzke, who leads the User Interface and User Experience Team at The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). 

“This team has been in conversations for over a year contributing their expertise in nutrition, community outreach, informatics, and design to come up with the platform that aims to improve health service delivery for culturally diverse older adults,” Raj said. “Working together across disciplines has been pivotal to bringing this idea to reality.”

Read the complete release from the College of Applied Health Sciences.

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Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.