180009 Family Matters: A Mentor Parent Intervention to Promote Health and Wellness of Children with Special Health Care Needs

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Paula M. Minihan, PhD, MPH , Department of Public Health & Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Barbara Popper, M Ed, IBCLC , Federation of Children with Special Needs, Boston, MA
Sara M. Parisi, MS/MPH , Department of Public Health & Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Betsy Anderson , Family Voices, Boston, MA
Beth Dworetzky , Mass Family Voices at the Federation for Children with Special Needs, Boston, MA
Aviva Must, PhD , Department of Public Health & Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA
Policies and programs designed to support families of children with special health care needs(SHCN) in their efforts to promote healthier behaviors and prevent secondary disabilities are promising, but require empirical information. We tested a mentor-parent intervention designed to support parents in their efforts to implement Bright Futures health supervision guidelines for children. We randomized parents in 4 states (NJ,MA,VT,WA) to 6 months of mentor-peer support and periodic newsletters or a control group receiving newsletters only. The intervention provided 1:1 telephone and/or e-mail communication at least biweekly. Intervention parents selected specific goals from 11 Bright Futures recommendations for healthy eating(HE) and physical activity/sedentary behavior(PA/SB). HE and PA/SD attitudinal and behavior changes were assessed by pre-post self-administered questionnaires.

The 28 intervention and 29 control parents, all mothers, were similar at baseline. 25 parents selected HE goals; 21 selected PA/SD goals; 16 selected both. Children were mean(SD) age 9.9(3.4) and mostly white(83%). Overall, HE behaviors of both groups improved, and although for all HE behaviors, the intervention group changed more, differences were non-significant(p>0.10). However, intervention group parents were significantly more likely to feel able to encourage their child to eat healthful meals (p=0.006). PA behaviors did not differ by group. Time spent using electronic media increased less in the intervention group compared to controls (0.07 vs. 0.29 median hours, p=0.099). Intervention parents were also more likely to feel able to limit their child's computer time (p=0.04). These encouraging findings suggest that peer support may be a useful approach to family-centered health promotion.

Learning Objectives:
1)Name the Bright Futures health promotion goals parents enrolled in the study were likely to select. 2)Identify 2 attitudinal changes seen among parents who received mentor peer support. 3)Describe one challenge to family-based behavioral intervention studies conducted in families with children with special health care needs.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: of my role as principle investigator on the CDC grant that supported this research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.