Parental activation and obesity-related health behaviors among a racially and ethnically diverse population of low-income pediatric patients: Protocol for a cross-sectional survey study

Nakiya N Showell, Corinna Koebnick, Lisa DeCamp, Margo Sidell, Tatiahna Rivera Rodriguez, Jennifer J. Jimenez, Deborah Young, Rachel Johnson Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Despite a recent decline in the obesity prevalence among preschool-aged children, obesity remains disproportionately high among children from low-income racial or ethnic minority families. Promoting healthy lifestyles (eg, obesity-preventative behaviors) in primary care settings is particularly important for young children, given the frequency of preventative health visits and parent-provider interactions. Higher adoption of specific health behaviors is correlated with increased patient activation (ie, skill, confidence, and knowledge to manage their health care) among adults. However, no published study, to date, has examined the relationship between parental activation and obesity-related health behaviors among young children. Objective: The goal of this study is to measure parental activation in low-income parents of preschoolers in 2 large health systems and to examine the association with diet, screen-time, and physical activity behaviors. Methods: We will conduct a cross-sectional study of parents of preschool-aged patients (2-5 years) receiving primary care at multiple clinic sites within 2 large health care systems. Study participants, low-income black, Hispanic, and white parents of preschool-aged patients, are being recruited across both health systems to complete orally administered surveys. Results: Recruitment began in December 2017 and is expected to end in May 2018. A total of 267 low-income parents of preschool-aged children have been enrolled across both clinic sites. We are enrolling an additional 33 parents to reach our goal sample size of 300 across both health systems. The data analysis will be completed in June 2018. Conclusions: This protocol outlines the first study to fully examine parental activation and its relationship with parent-reported diet, physical activity, and screen-time behaviors among low-income preschool-aged patients. It involves recruitment across 2 geographically distinct areas and resulting from a partnership between researchers at 2 different health systems with multiple clinical sites. This study will provide new knowledge about how parental activation can potentially be incorporated as a strategy to address childhood obesity disparities in primary care settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere182
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2018



  • Activation
  • Child
  • Health behaviors
  • Obesity
  • Parent
  • Primary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

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