Role of Health Coaches in Pediatric Weight Management: Patient and Parent Perspectives

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Abstract

This study aims to describe patients’ and families’ perspectives regarding the ideal role and responsibilities of a health coach to facilitate pediatric weight management in the primary care setting. Systematic thematic analysis of semistructured interviews with overweight children and their parents was performed. The majority of participants self-identified as racial/ethnic minorities and were Medicaid eligible. Desired health coaching elements included (a) customized support and encouragement, including goal setting and maintenance, cultural sensitivity, and consideration of budget and lifestyle; (b) nutritional guidance, including meal planning, assistance obtaining healthy food, and education and counseling; and (c) linkage to resources, including social services, physical activity support, and programs for children with special health care needs. We conclude that families’ specific needs should be holistically considered in the design of health coaching programs targeting pediatric obesity. Such support may help overcome social and financial barriers to changing health behaviors related to weight management.

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