Why do parents discontinue health services for managing paediatric obesity? A multi-centre, qualitative study
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OBJECTIVE: To explore parents' reasons for discontinuing tertiary-level care for paediatric weight management. METHODS: Participants were parents of 10-17year olds (body mass index [BMI] ≥85th percentile) who were referred for paediatric weight management. Parents were recruited from three Canadian sites (Vancouver, BC; Edmonton, AB; Hamilton, ON) and were eligible if their children attended at least one clinical appointment and subsequently discontinued care. Data were collected using semi-structured individual interviews that were digitally recorded, transcribed, and analysed using an inductive manifest content analysis. RESULTS: Parents (n=29) of children [mean age: 14.7±1.8years; mean BMI percentile: 98.9±1.6; n=17 (58.6%) boys] were primarily female (n=26; 89.7%), Caucasian (n=22; 75.9%), and had a university degree (n=23; 79.3%). Reasons for discontinuing care were grouped into three categories: (i) family factors (e.g., perceived lack of progress, lack of family support, children's lack of motivation), (ii) logistical factors (e.g., monetary costs, distance, scheduling), and (iii) health services factors (e.g., unmet expectations of care, perceived limited menu of services, no perceived need for further support). CONCLUSIONS: A range of multi-level factors influenced attrition from tertiary-level paediatric weight management. Our data suggest that experimental research is needed to examine whether addressing reasons for attrition can enhance families' retention in care and ultimately improve health outcomes for children living with obesity.
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