Digital tools to support family-based weight management for children: Mixed methods pilot and feasibility study

Amanda E. Staiano, Jenelle R. Shanley, Holly Kihm, Keely R. Hawkins, Shannon Self-Brown, Christoph Höchsmann, Melissa C. Osborne, Monique M. LeBlanc, John W. Apolzan, Corby K. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background: Family-based behavioral therapy is an efficacious approach to deliver weight management counseling to children and their parents. However, most families do not have access to in-person, evidence-based treatment. We previously developed and tested DRIVE (Developing Relationships that Include Values of Eating and Exercise), a home-based parent training program to maintain body weight among children at risk for obesity, with the intent to eventually disseminate it nationally alongside SafeCare, a parent support program that focuses on parent-child interactions. Currently the DRIVE program has only been tested independently of SafeCare. This study created the “mHealth DRIVE” program by further adapting DRIVE to incorporate digital and mobile health tools, including remotely delivered sessions, a wireless scale that enabled a child-tailored weight graph, and a pedometer. Telehealth delivery via mHealth platforms and other digital tools can improve program cost-effectiveness, deliver long-term care, and directly support both families and care providers. Objective: The objective of this study was to examine preliminary acceptability and effectiveness of the mHealth DRIVE program among children and parents who received it and among SafeCare providers who potentially could deliver it. Methods: Study 1 was a 13-week pilot study of a remotely delivered mHealth family-based weight management program. Satisfaction surveys were administered, and height and weight were measured pre- and post-study. Study 2 was a feasibility/acceptability survey administered to SafeCare providers. Results: Parental and child satisfaction (mean of 4.9/6.0 and 3.8/5.0, respectively) were high, and children's (N=10) BMI z-scores significantly decreased (mean -0.14, SD 0.17; P=.025). Over 90% of SafeCare providers (N=74) indicated that SafeCare families would benefit from learning how to eat healthily and be more active, and 80% of providers reported that they and the families would benefit from digital tools to support child weight management. Conclusions: Pediatric mHealth weight management interventions show promise for effectiveness and acceptability by families and providers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere24714
JournalJMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Health Informatics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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