Provider Perceptions on Parent-Led Activity and Nutrition (PLAN) for Healthy Living Study Targeting Child Overweight and Obesity

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Childhood overweight and obesity rates have grown immensely in recent years in the United States, especially in rural areas. The current study evaluated health care providers’ perceptions of training and implementation of a cluster-randomized clinical trial, Parent-Led Activity and Nutrition (PLAN) for Healthy Living, for treatment of overweight and obesity in children 5-11 years of age. Five physicians (3 in a pediatric clinic and 2 in a family medicine clinic) were trained in (1) brief motivational interviewing techniques for individual visits with parents, and (2) the National Institutes of Health (NIH) We Can! (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity and Nutrition) Curricula to lead group sessions with these same parents aimed at providing them with the tools necessary to aid in changing their family’s eating and physical activity behaviors. Upon completion of the 10-week intervention, physicians (N = 4) participated in focus groups with research staff to discuss their experiences with the study. Based on the individual visit training in brief motivational interviewing, the principle of supporting self-efficacy was used by all providers during individual visits and was determined to be of most help. One physician commented that individual sessions would likely be more effective with families that are well-known by the provider, and several physicians believed that longer-term follow-up visits conducted by a registered dietician or nurse are feasible. Findings revealed that physician preparation time for a group session with parents was within the range of 15-90 minutes, with all providers believing this time was well-spent. The provider ratings of group session effectiveness were very high, approximately a 6 on a 7 point scale. Several providers felt the group visits were more effective than the individual visits. Additionally, some providers suggested continuing the group sessions on a monthly basis for long-term support. The collective data suggests that physicians view PLAN as an acceptable and feasible approach to the treatment of child overweight and obesity.


Johnson City, TN

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