Conversation Cards© a useful tool in pediatric weight management

Using priority setting tools helps health care providers create weight management plans with families, according to a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior

Philadelphia, PA, July 6, 2017

Increasing numbers of children and adolescents struggle with obesity, a challenging and complex health issue. Likewise, health care providers can find it challenging to effectively counsel families on weight management. To this end, Conversation Cards© were developed to help families think about and prioritize key challenges regarding pediatric weight management. They also create points of reference for providers, which could help to create treatment plans for families based on their priorities. Using Conversation Cards©, researchers from the University of Alberta conducted a study that reviewed the way families use the cards and how their card selections aligned with family characteristics.

Data for this cross-sectional study were retrieved from a clinic providing care for 2- to 17-year-olds with overweight or obesity. Families were introduced to Conversation Cards© at a monthly, group-based orientation session after they were referred for care by local physicians and nurse practitioners.

Among 146 participants, families selected an average of 10 cards, with an equal proportion of positive (e.g., Ongoing contact with our clinician keeps us motivated) and negative (e.g., I feel overwhelmed and lack support) statements. The most popular card choices reflected families’ readiness to make healthy changes, preference for involving children and adolescents in clinical discussions, the importance of children and adolescents in sharing their thoughts, wanting to learn how to make healthy foods fun, and desire for a specially trained fitness instructor to work with children and adolescents.

Top five most frequently selected Conversation Cards©. Credit: Maryam Kebbe

“The needs and preferences of families relating to motivation and clinical support, especially across socioeconomic groups, revealed the complexity of patient- and family-level priorities that providers can address,” lead author Maryam Kebbe, BSc, said.

Factors such as age and socioeconomic status had interesting effects on attitudes in the study. For example, compared with children, a greater proportion of adolescents disliked exercise and bought fast food in the absence of their parents. Likewise, compared with their counterparts, a greater proportion of parents with a higher level of education and lower household income reported that setting goals helped them to remain motivated; those with lower incomes also reported that their finances limited what they could do. A greater proportion of parents with a lower level of education also reported financial limitations in registering their sons and daughters in sports.

“Offering families services that align with their readiness, motivation, and ability to participate actively in pediatric weight management is ideal. Conversation Cards© may be useful to complement existing processes and procedures for both providers and families,” Kebbe added.

Although Conversation Cards© were helpful for families in establishing their priorities with health care providers, further research using this tool is needed. Several other projects are underway, including whether the Conversation Cards© can be used effectively for goal setting and enhancing motivation to change habits over time.

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Notes for editors
The article is “Following Suit: Using Conversation Cards for Priority Setting in Pediatric Weight Management,” by Maryam Kebbe, BSc; Jillian L. S. Byrne, PhD; Samah Damanhoury, MSc; and Geoff D. C. Ball, PhD, RD (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jneb.2017.03.020). It appears in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, volume 49, issue 7 (July 2017) published by Elsevier.

Full text of the article is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact Eileen Leahy at +1 732-238-3628 or jnebmedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. To schedule an interview with the authors, please contact Geoff Ball, PhD, RD, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta, at +1 780-492-8727 or gdball@ualberta.ca.

An audio podcast featuring an interview with Maryam Kebbe and Geoff D. C. Ball and information specifically for journalists are located at www.jneb.org/content/podcast. Excerpts from the podcast may be reproduced by the media; contact Eileen Leahy to obtain permission.

About the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior (JNEB), the official journal of the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior (SNEB), is a refereed, scientific periodical that serves as a resource for all professionals with an interest in nutrition education and dietary/physical activity behaviors. The purpose of JNEB is to document and disseminate original research, emerging issues, and practices relevant to nutrition education and behavior worldwide and to promote healthy, sustainable food choices. It supports the society’s efforts to disseminate innovative nutrition education strategies, and communicate information on food, nutrition, and health issues to students, professionals, policy makers, targeted audiences, and the public. www.jneb.org

The Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior features articles that provide new insights and useful findings related to nutrition education research, practice, and policy. The content areas of JNEB reflect the diverse interests of health, nutrition, education, Cooperative Extension, and other professionals working in areas related to nutrition education and behavior. As the Society's official journal, JNEB also includes occasional policy statements, issue perspectives, and member communications.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a global information analytics company that helps institutions and professionals progress science, advance healthcare and improve performance for the benefit of humanity. Elsevier provides digital solutions and tools in the areas of strategic research management, R&D performance, clinical decision support, and professional education; including ScienceDirect, Scopus, ClinicalKey and Sherpath. Elsevier publishes over 2,500 digitized journals, including The Lancet and Cell, more than 35,000 e-book titles and many iconic reference works, including Gray's Anatomy. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a global provider of information and analytics for professionals and business customers across industries. www.elsevier.com

Media contact
Eileen Leahy
Elsevier
+1 732-238-3628
jnebmedia@elsevier.com