Parents' views and experiences of childhood obesity management in primary care: A qualitative study

Academic Unit of Primary Health Care, School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, Canynge Hall, 39 Whatley Road, Bristol, UK.
Family Practice (Impact Factor: 1.86). 11/2011; 29(4):476-81. DOI: 10.1093/fampra/cmr111
Source: PubMed


Primary care has been viewed as an appropriate setting for childhood obesity management. Little is known about parents' views and experiences of obesity management within this clinical setting. These views and experiences need to be explored, as they could affect treatment success.
To explore parents' views and experiences of primary care as a treatment setting for childhood obesity.
In-depth interviews were held with 15 parents of obese children aged 5-10 years, to explore their views and experiences of primary care childhood obesity management. Parents were contacted via a hospital-based childhood obesity clinic, general practices and Mind, Exercise, Nutrition … Do it! (MEND) groups based in Bristol, England. The interviews were audio-taped transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically.
Parents viewed primary care as an appropriate setting in which to treat childhood obesity but were reluctant to consult due to a fear of being blamed for their child's weight and a concern about their child's mental well-being. They also questioned whether practitioners had the knowledge, time and resources to effectively manage childhood obesity. Parents varied in the extent to which they had found consulting a practitioner helpful, and their accounts suggested that GPs and school nurses offer different types of support.
Parents need to be reassured that practitioners will address their child's weight in a non-judgemental sensitive manner and are able to treat childhood obesity effectively. A multidisciplinary team approach might benefit a child, as different practitioners may vary in the type of care they provide.

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    • "Health-related research in general and obesity research in particular are increasingly using qualitative methods. Examples include the development or refinement of quantitative instruments [13, 14] as well as studies that focus on the interaction of patient and physician [15, 16]. A focus of qualitative research in the field of obesity can be found in those studies that deal with stigmatising experiences in different settings [17, 18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background While numerous studies highlight the relevance of socio-cultural factors influencing incidence and prevalence of obesity, only a few address how obese people perceive causes and prevention of or intervention for obesity. This study contributes to a more thorough understanding of subjective aetiologies and framing themes for a mainly understudied but promising field. Thus it may serve for the development of effective public health strategies to combat obesity. Methods Autobiographically based in-depth interviews were conducted with 20 patients (adolescents and young adults) institutionalised in the obesity rehabilitation centre INSULA in Bischofswiesen (Germany). The data were analysed with Atlas.ti with regard to two main perspectives: (1) How the interviewees perceive ‘their’ obesity from a subjective point of view and (2) which conclusions they draw from their own ‘story’ concerning prevention/intervention strategies. Results The interviewees did not indicate a clear starting point for their overweight. Nevertheless, certain life-events (e.g. divorce or illness of parents) were identified as catalysing weight gain. As a consequence of coping with distress, body weight rises rapidly and not continuously. Obesity was generally framed as a problem primarily located within the family and not in the wider environment. Corresponding to this, the family was identified as the main and most important addressee of preventive measures. The interviewees highlighted the importance of personal responsibility as a prerequisite for self-determined action against obesity, but denied any link between responsibility and guilt. Conclusions This study contributes substantially to a broader perspective on the prevention of obesity. First, more attention has to be paid to the interactions of medical aspects and the social dimension of obesity. Second, prevention efforts should be more aware of the relevance of subjective aetiology when it comes to the definition of reasonable and effective governance strategies in tackling obesity. Third, current assumptions concerning the importance of personal responsibility for obesity prevention might underestimate the relevance of self-determined action of the obese.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · BMC Public Health
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    • "Long term improvement is known to be hard to achieve [23]. A plausible argument has been made [24] that improvements in child weight management are more likely to take place in families who are engaged and ready to make changes. Among the families we spoke to, living in circumstances which facilitated change (for instance having the time, space and assets to get to and from the programme) was also crucial, as were ‘pilot lights’ for change such as a new school, or a dog with his own exercise requirements. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background As part of a study considering the impact of a child weight management programme when rolled out at scale following an RCT, this qualitative study focused on acceptability and implementation for providers and for families taking part. Methods Participants were selected on the basis of a maximum variation sample providing a range of experiences and social contexts. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 29 professionals who commissioned or delivered the programme, and 64 individuals from 23 families in 3 English regions. Topic guides were used as a tool rather than a rule, enabling participants to construct a narrative about their experiences. Transcripts were analysed using framework analysis. Results Practical problems such as transport, work schedules and competing demands on family time were common barriers to participation. Delivery partners often put considerable efforts into recruiting, retaining and motivating families, which increased uptake but also increased cost. Parents and providers valued skilled delivery staff. Some providers made adaptations to meet local social and cultural needs. Both providers and parents expressed concerns about long term outcomes, and how this was compromised by an obesogenic environment. Concerns about funding together with barriers to uptake and engagement could translate into barriers to commissioning. Where these barriers were not experienced, commissioners were enthusiastic about continuing the programme. Conclusions Most families felt that they had gained something from the programme, but few felt that it had ‘worked’ for them. The demands on families including time and emotional work were experienced as difficult. For commissioners, an RCT with positive results was an important driver, but family barriers, alongside concerns about recruitment and retention, a desire for local adaptability with qualified motivated staff, and funding changes discouraged some from planning to use the intervention in future.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · BMC Public Health
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    • "A small number of parents reported feeling upset or angry in response to the feedback. Consideration of the sensitive nature of weight issues should be a priority when devising feedback [31]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background Small-scale evaluations suggest that the provision of feedback to parents about their child’s weight status may improve recognition of overweight, but the effects on lifestyle behaviour are unclear and there are concerns that informing parents that their child is overweight may have harmful effects. The aims of this study were to describe the benefits and harms of providing weight feedback to parents as part of a national school-based weight-screening programme in England. Methods We conducted a pre-post survey of 1,844 parents of children aged 4–5 and 10–11 years who received weight feedback as part of the 2010–2011 National Child Measurement Programme. Questionnaires assessed general knowledge about the health risks associated with child overweight, parental recognition of overweight and the associated health risks in their child, child lifestyle behaviour, child self-esteem and weight-related teasing, parental experience of the feedback, and parental help-seeking behaviour. Differences in the pre-post proportions of parents reporting each outcome were assessed using a McNemar’s test. Results General knowledge about child overweight as a health issue was high at baseline and increased further after weight feedback. After feedback, the proportion of parents that correctly recognised their child was overweight increased from 21.9% to 37.7%, and more than a third of parents of overweight children sought further information regarding their child’s weight. However, parent-reported changes in lifestyle behaviours among children were minimal, and limited to increases in physical activity in the obese children only. There was some suggestion that weight feedback had a greater impact upon changing parental recognition of the health risks associated with child overweight in non-white ethnic groups. Conclusions In this population-based sample of parents of children participating in the National Child Measurement Programme, provision of weight feedback increased recognition of child overweight and encouraged some parents to seek help, without causing obvious unfavourable effects. The impact of weight feedback on behaviour change was limited; suggesting that further work is needed to identify ways to more effectively communicate health information to parents and to identify what information and support may encourage parents in making and maintaining lifestyle changes for their child.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · BMC Public Health
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