Randomized trial of a family-based, automated, conversational obesity treatment program for underserved populations

Authors

  • J. A. Wright,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of General Internal Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine/Boston Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA
    • Department of Exercise & Health Sciences College of Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Boston, Boston, MA, USA
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  • B.D. Phillips,

    1. Department of Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, MA, USA
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  • B.L. Watson,

    1. Department of General Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
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  • P.K. Newby,

    1. Department of General Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
    2. Division of Graduate Medical Nutrition Sciences; Boston University School of Public Health; Department of Epidemiology; Boston University Metropolitan College, Program in Gastronomy, Culinary Arts, and Wine Studies, Boston, MA, USA
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  • G.J. Norman,

    1. Department of Family & Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA
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  • W.G. Adams

    1. Department of General Pediatrics, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Funding agencies: National Institute of Child and Human Development (NICHD R21 HD050939-02).

  • Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interst.

Correspondence: J. A. Wright (julie.wright@umb.edu)

Abstract

Objective

To evaluate the acceptability and feasibility of a scalable obesity treatment program integrated with pediatric primary care (PC) and delivered using interactive voice technology (IVR) to families from underserved populations.

Design and Methods

Fifty parent-child dyads (child 9-12 yrs, BMI > 95th percentile) were recruited from a pediatric PC clinic and randomized to either an IVR or a wait-list control (WLC) group. The majority were lower-income, African-American (72%) families. Dyads received IVR calls for 12 weeks. Call content was informed by two evidence-based interventions. Anthropometric and behavioral variables were assessed at baseline and 3-month follow-up.

Results

Forty-three dyads completed the study. IVR parents ate one cup more fruit than WLC (P < 0.05). No other group differences were found. Children classified as high users of the IVR decreased weight, BMI, and BMI z-score compared to low users ( P < 0.05). Mean number of calls for parents and children were 9.1 (5.2 SD) and 9.0 (5.7 SD), respectively. Of those who made calls, >75% agreed that the calls were useful, made for people like them, credible, and helped them eat healthy foods.

Conclusion

An obesity treatment program delivered via IVR may be an acceptable and feasible resource for families from underserved populations.

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