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Study uses IT to prevent early childhood obesity

Dec. 20, 2018, 10:29 AM


by Paul Govern

A research team led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s Russell Rothman, MD, MPP, has been approved for a $7 million research funding award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to conduct a randomized, multi-center trial comparing clinic and consumer information technology approaches to promote healthy behaviors and prevent early childhood obesity.

Russell Rothman, MD, MPP

Some 900 families will be recruited during the newborn stage at six pediatric clinics that participate in both CORNET, a national practice-based research network of pediatric residency primary care practices supported by the Academic Pediatric Association, and PCORnet, the national research network supported by PCORI.

In one arm of the study, during each of nine recommended well-child visits from birth to 18 months, pediatric residents trained in clear health communication and shared goal setting will use low-literacy, age-specific parent education booklets to promote healthy family behaviors and obesity prevention. In a second arm, other families will receive the same communication through a technology-assisted parent education program that includes a web/mobile platform for education and behavior change and a text messaging strategy designed for lower socioeconomic status populations.

“More than 25 percent of preschool children are overweight or obese, and these rates are higher among children in low-income and minority communities,” said Rothman, Ingram Professor of Integrative and Population Health and director of the Vanderbilt Center for Health Services Research.

“Few clinical trials have addressed obesity prevention in the first years of life or have examined the effect of interventions that integrate a literacy-sensitive approach or the use of information technology to improve care. This study design will allow us to determine whether added technology can provide support outside the clinic to promote behavior change and obesity prevention.”

Rothman is also principal investigator for STAR CRN, the Stakeholder, Technology and Research Clinical Research Network, a collaborative effort among a group of large health care systems to support and conduct innovative comparative effectiveness research and pragmatic clinical trials.

PCORI is an independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed health care decisions.

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