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Abstract

Clinical practice and variation in care for childhood obesity at seven clinics in California

BackgroundThe Healthy Eating Active Living TeleHealth Community of Practice is a virtual quality-improvement learning network of seven rural clinics in California. The goal of this network is to improve childhood obesity prevention and management practices at participating clinics. AimOur objective is to describe clinical practices regarding weight assessment and nutrition and physical activity counselling at participating clinics before implementation of the quality improvement intervention. MethodsParticipants were 2–11 year old children seen for well-child care in 2010. Telephone surveys of English and Spanish-speaking parents were conducted within three days of their child’s well-child visit to determine the content of counselling during the visit regarding nutrition and physical activity. Medical record reviews were conducted to determine clinicians’ assessment of weight status. FindingsTwenty-seven clinicians conducted 144 well-child visits included in the study. Body mass index (BMI) was documented in 71% of medical records. Fewer than 10% of medical records had documentation ofweight category. Sixty-nine percent of parents received counselling on physical activity and 62% reported receiving counselling on fruit and vegetable intake. Parents were counselled less frequently on breakfast intake, sweetened beverages,television and family meals. Parents of overweight/ obese children did not receive more counseling than parents of children with a healthy BMI. Clinician- level effects accounted for moderately large amount of variation in counselling, but accounted for smaller variation in documentation of BMI and weight category. There was high between-clinic variation in documentation practices, with 54% of the total variance for documentation attributable to clinic-level effects. ConclusionsRural clinicians, like those elsewhere, do not uniformly assess BMI percentile or counsel families on behavioural risk factors for paediatric obesity. There exists considerable clinician-level variation in counselling practices and clinic-site level correlation in documentation practices related to BMI percentile and weight category.


Author(s):

Ulfat Shaikh, Jasmine Nettiksimmons, Jill G Joseph, Daniel J Tancredi, Patrick S Romano



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