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Open Access Research

Treatment adherence and facilitator characteristics in a community based pediatric weight control intervention

Elissa Jelalian1*, Gary D Foster2, Amy F Sato3, Kristoffer S Berlin4, Cynthia McDermott5 and Deborah Sundal6

Author Affiliations

1 Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, RI 02903, USA

2 Center for Obesity Research and Education, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

3 Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH, USA

4 The University of Memphis, Memphis, TN, USA

5 YMCA of Greater Providence, Providence, RI, USA

6 UnitedHealth Group for Health Reform and Modernization, UnitedHealth Group, Minneapolis, MN, USA

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:17  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-17

Published: 13 February 2014

Abstract

Background

There is a pressing need to develop effective and broadly accessible interventions to address pediatric obesity. An important dimension in translating interventions to community settings is evaluating the fidelity with which the intended treatment is delivered and the level of facilitator needed to deliver the intervention with efficacy.

Purpose

The primary objectives of this study were to: 1) provide descriptive information regarding adherence to protocol and non-specific facilitator characteristics (e.g. interpersonal characteristics, group management skills) within the context of a community based pediatric weight control intervention delivered by paraprofessionals; and 2) examine the relationships among facilitator adherence and characteristics and rate of change in percent overweight demonstrated by youth over the course of the 24-week intervention.

Methods

The intervention was conducted between February and September of 2011. Children (6–16 years) and parents completed primary outcome measures at baseline, 12, and 24 weeks (i.e. end of treatment). A 2-part rating form was developed to assess facilitator adherence to weekly content and general provider characteristics at two different time points during the intervention.

Results

Youth participating in this study were on average 11.3 years old (SD = 2.8), with most being under the age of 13 years (74.2%). Over half were female (54.8%) and over two-thirds were White (68.4%). On average, facilitators adhered to 96.0% (SD = 5.2%) of the session content at Time 1 and 92.6% (SD = 6.8%) at Time 2. Higher Content Adherence at Time 1 and Time 2 were associated with greater loss in percent overweight.

Conclusions

Our data suggest that paraprofessionals without prior expertise in pediatric weight control can be trained to successfully deliver an intervention that is evidence based and incorporates behavioral and educational components. These findings need to be considered in light of some limitations, including the fact that facilitator domains were assessed with a modification of a standardized tool and we did not obtain inter-rater reliability of observations. These limitations not withstanding, investing time in training facilitators to adhere to a given protocol is critical and may be of higher priority than focusing on more general facilitator characteristics.

Keywords:
Obesity; Pediatric; Intervention; Community; Facilitator