• Poster
  • October 1, 2009

Perspectives on Obesity Programs at Children’s Hospitals: Insights From Senior Program Administrators

First presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting, also presented at the 2009 meeting of The Obesity Society

Ihouma Eneli, MD, MS, Associate Director, Weight Management Program, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, OH
Michelle Ferris, LCSW, Program Manager, Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Dallas, TX
Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, Director, Weight Management Program, Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE
Trillium Hibbeln, Director, Program Development, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI
Victoria Norwood, MD, Professor of Pediatrics and Chief of Pediatric Nephrology, University of Virginia Children’s Hospital, Charlottesville, VA
Maureen Pomietto, MN, RN, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Seattle Children’s, Seattle, WA

In 2007, the Association identified childhood obesity as a child advocacy priority initiative. Although children’s hospitals have responded to the obesity epidemic through the creation of obesity programs, there are currently no standardized approaches, formal mechanisms for information-sharing or collaborative models for sustainable engagement between obesity healthcare providers and administrative leaders. To address these limitations, the Association established a focus group comprised of children’s hospitals’ obesity programs.

To examine the perspectives, challenges, and expectations of senior administrative personnel involved in a hospital-based pediatric obesity program.

Member hospitals were invited to participate in an obesity FOCUS group. Selection criteria included hospitals that have a multidisciplinary (stage 3) or tertiary (stage 4) obesity program with an identified “medical champion”, and the support of a senior program administrator. We conducted an internet survey of senior administrators of the 49 member hospitals which had completed an application to participate in the focus group.

Seventy-two percent (34/47) of the senior administrators at 47 member hospitals completed the survey. Nearly three-quarters of respondents reported their obesity program was integrated into their hospital's strategic plan, and 79% ranked the obesity program as "very important" or "important". The most common type of program funding was institutional support (75%). Obesity programs add value to the institution because they meet the needs of patients and families (97%); meet the needs of healthcare providers (91%); prevent future health problems in children (85%); and increase visibility in the community (79%). Lack of reimbursement (82%) and high operating costs (71%) were the most frequently cited challenges. Respondents identified the following factors as necessary to ensure program sustainability; demonstration of program effectiveness (79%), continuing grant funding (50%), demonstration of financial viability (74%); and sustained perceived need by the community (62%).

Children’s hospital administrators view tackling childhood obesity as integral to their mission to care for children. Our results provide an opportunity for collaborative planning between hospital clinical and business leaders to design sustainable pediatric obesity programs.