Wake Forest Baptist awarded grant to study dropout rates in pediatric weight-loss programs

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Dec. 9, 2019 – The National Institute of Nursing Research, part of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded Wake Forest Baptist Health a five-year grant worth approximately $2.97 million to study the reasons for attrition in pediatric weight-management programs and develop better ways to predict and reduce dropout rates.

“Obesity is one of the foremost threats to the health of children in the United States today,” said the study’s lead investigator, Joseph A. Skelton, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest Baptist. “Multidisciplinary pediatric weight-management programs have proven effective, but their effectiveness has been limited by high attrition rates, up to 75 percent in some instances. Being able to accurately predict dropout from treatment holds great potential for reducing attrition and improving outcomes.”

The study will employ a model predictive of patient attrition that has been developed at Brenner FIT, the pediatric weight-management program directed by Skelton at Wake Forest Baptist’s Brenner Children’s Hospital. The researchers intend to test and refine the model’s validity and accuracy through the collection and analysis of data from Brenner FIT and pediatric weight-management programs in Boston, Columbus, Ohio, and Kansas City, Mo.

“Through the larger study size, consistency in data elements and advanced analytic techniques, we believe we can more clearly understand the various factors that contribute to dropout from pediatric weight management,” Skelton said. “Our goal is to produce a tool that can be widely disseminated to help pediatric weight management – and potentially other clinical programs -decrease attrition rates, reduce costs and identify treatment approaches that best serve the needs of patients and their families.”

The co-investigators at Wake Forest Baptist are Gail M. Cohen, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, and Edward Ip, Ph.D., professor of biostatistics and data science.

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