Background: There are limited evidence-based referral options for children living in Queensland who are at risk of overweight or obesity. Despite the known importance of prevention initiatives, an online prevention program supporting sustainable healthy behaviours does not currently exist in Queensland.
Aim: To understand the perspectives of health professionals and parents/guardians regarding key aspects of an online childhood overweight and obesity prevention program.
Methods: This pragmatic, mixed-methods study was conducted from March – December 2020. Recruitment included participants from two distinct groups actively involved with children aged 2-17 years; health professionals and parents/guardians. Phase 1 involved dissemination of an online survey. Questions addressed program structure, content delivery (including nutrition, physical activity and parenting practices), program evaluation and information dissemination. Descriptive statistics were used to describe survey data to inform the delivery of focus groups in Phase 2. Two focus groups were conducted with each participant group separately to further explore the topics. Thematic analysis was used to investigate qualitative data.
Results: 28 health professionals and 11 parents/guardians completed the survey, and 14 health professionals and 6 parents/guardians participated in the focus groups. Participants believed the most beneficial approach would target a younger age group with family-based interventions, via a non-traditional and tailored structure. There was a strong preference for interactive content, gamification to engage children, and practical resources to translate knowledge into practice. Parents emphasised that there should be no assumption of knowledge, with storytelling and real-time feedback utilised to maximise engagement.
Conclusions: Participants provided clear direction regarding key aspects for future development of an online prevention program, highlighting the importance of the incorporation of co-design principles, particularly early in the research planning phases.