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Parents are satisfied with telemedicine care for their child's obesity
Rates of childhood obesity are rising, including in rural communities. Obesity is a complex condition requiring in-depth lifestyle and psychosocial interventions that may be difficult to access in rural areas. A new study suggests that telemedicine has potential to deliver childhood obesity interventions to parents and their children. It found that parents were as satisfied with telemedicine care as they were with face-to-face management of their child's obesity. California researchers compared two groups of children who had received consultation for obesity at a university-affiliated pediatric weight-management clinic. One group received traditional, face-to-face care from a pediatrician specializing in weight management and a dietician at the clinic.
The other group of children received their care from the clinic's pediatrician and dietitian via telemedicine at rural and remote clinics. All parents then received questionnaires that asked about various aspects of the care their children received, such as provider listening skills, parental understanding of instructions, and how comfortable parents were at discussing health concerns. The study evaluated surveys of 10 telemedicine visits and 15 face-to-face visits. Overall satisfaction scores were similar for both groups of parents. This included satisfaction with the consulting health care provider. There was one notable difference in the telemedicine group. These parents rated the telemedicine visits slightly lower than face-to-face parents when it came to providers explaining things about their child's health in an easy-to-understand manner.
Parents who had participated in telemedicine visits in the past said they would be happy to participate in future telemedicine consultations. The study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS18567). See "Comparison of parent satisfaction with care for childhood obesity delivered face-to-face and by telemedicine," by Kirk W. Mulgrew, M.D., Ulfat Shaikh, M.D., M.P.H., M.S., and Jasmine Nettiksimmons, M.A., in the June 2011 Telemedicine and e-Health 17(5), pp. 383-387.
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