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Pediatric Obesity: A Focus on Treatment Options

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Front. Pediatr. | doi: 10.3389/fped.2018.00386

Understanding family-level impacts of adult chronic disease management programs: Perceived impacts of behavior change on adolescent family members’ health behaviors among low-income African Americans with uncontrolled hypertension

 Rachel L. Thornton1*, Tracy J. Yang2, Patti L. Ephraim3, L. E. Boulware4 and Lisa A. Cooper5
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, United States
  • 2Columbia University Medical Center, United States
  • 3Department of Health, Behavior and Society, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States
  • 4Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine, United States
  • 5Division of General Internal Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine, United States

Background: Despite improvements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment, low-income African Americans experience disparities in CVD-related morbidity and mortality. Childhood obesity disparities and poor diet and physical activity behaviors contribute to CVD disparities throughout the life course. Given the potential for intergenerational transmission of CVD risk, it is important to determine whether adult disease management interventions could be modified to achieve family-level benefits and improve primary prevention among high-risk youth.
Objective: To explore mechanisms by which African-American adults’ (referred to as index patients) participation in a hypertension disease management trial influence adolescent family members’ (referred to as teens) lifestyle behaviors.

Design/Methods: The study recruited index patients from the Achieving blood pressure Control Together (ACT) study who reported living with a teen ages 12-17 years old. Index patients and teens were recruited for in-depth interviews and were asked about any family-level changes to diet and physical activity behaviors during or after participation in the ACT study. If family-level changes were described, index patients and teens were asked whether role modeling, changes in the home food environment, meal preparation, and family functioning contributed to these changes. Thematic content analysis of transcribed interviews identified a priori and emergent themes.

Results: Eleven index patients and their teens participated in in-depth interviews. Index patients and teens both described changes to the home food environment and meal preparation. Role modeling was salient to index patients, particularly regarding healthy eating behaviors. Changes in family functioning due to study participation were not endorsed by index patients or teens. Emergent themes included teen care-taking of index patients and varying perceptions by index patients of their influence on teens’ health behaviors.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that disease management interventions directed at high-risk adult populations may influence adolescent family members’ health behaviors. We find support for the hypotheses that role modeling and changes to the home food environment are mechanisms by which family-level health behavior change occurs. Teens’ roles as caretakers for index patients emerged as another potential mechanism. Future research should explore these mechanisms and ways to leverage disease management to support both adult and adolescent health behavior change.

Keywords: Family Health, Hypertension, Health Promotion, Health Disparities, Disease Management

Received: 31 Aug 2018; Accepted: 21 Nov 2018.

Edited by:

Fatima C. Stanford, MD, MPH, MPA, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, United States

Reviewed by:

Holly Lofton, Division of Bariatric Surgery, School of Medicine, New York University, United States
Dawn M. Aycock, Georgia State University, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Thornton, Yang, Ephraim, Boulware and Cooper. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: MD, PhD. Rachel L. Thornton, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity, Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, United States, rjohns21@jhmi.edu