May 8, 2015 by Nicholas Spence
I have a couple of points to share with you.
I am pleased to say that after a lot of discussion and countless hours of revisions, we are nearing the final version of our Readiness and Motivation Interview for Families Managing Pediatric Obesity tool. This is no small feat. While we know that family motivation is essential in managing pediatric obesity through changes to related lifestyle behaviours, developing a measure to assess it is not so simple. It is an iterative process that, at times, seems like it may never end. But, we believe the payoff is worth the effort! Before we can get to testing the methodological or psychometric merit of the clinical tool by examining real world data, the content of the questions, wording, definitions, and a series of conceptual issues have to be resolved. To give you some sense of the time and effort that has gone into this measure thus far, it had to be adapted from the field of eating disorders through collaborations with a cross section of researchers and pediatric weight management clinical staff, followed by a research ethics proposal to pilot test the tool on a small sample of families, and then more revisions were made to improve the tool as a result of the small pilot study. At our team meeting in March, a thorough screening of the tool took place once again, with perspectives from a variety of clinicians and scientists from an array of disciplinary backgrounds (psychology, public health, nutrition, physiology, nursing, medicine, sociology). Once again, several revisions were made, and yesterday our team took, yet, another critical look at the tool! We think it is just about ready for testing (fingers crossed). If this description of the process seemed long, you can only imagine the journey in real time!
On another note, we are working with the clinical research informatics team at the Women and Children’s Health Research Institute at the University of Alberta to build the database that will store all of the data in a secure manner. Safe guards to ensure the security of participant information is of principal importance, and the WCHRI team has vast experience in this regard. Since this study will be following about 250 child-parent dyads for one year, across two sites (Calgary and Edmonton), and we will be assessing a host of clinical outcomes, including psychosocial, anthropometric, lifestyle behaviors (physical activity, sleep, nutrition), health service utilization, and program attrition, you can understand that this database will be LARGE. This requires careful thought and consideration. As someone who has worked with large scale databases for research purposes, I can definitely appreciate the importance of ensuring that it is set up strategically, which enhances data quality, and makes accessing and analyzing data a simple exercise (slight exaggeration). There are some points for us to think about, such as entering data through mobile devices, which has a series of advantages, including convenience, efficiency, real time data screening and analysis, and reduction of data entry errors.
There are other ongoing activities which are moving us one step closer to submitting a revised version of our research ethics proposal for approval and getting down to the fun part of the process – data collection! I’ll save those details for the coming weeks. We will keep you updated as things progress.