Background: Parenting, Eating and Activity for Child Health (PEACH™) is a multicomponent treatment program delivered over ten group sessions to parents of overweight/obese primary school-aged children. It has been shown to be efficacious in an RCT and was recently translated to a large-scale community intervention funded by the Queensland (Australia) Government. Engagement (enrolment and attendance) was critical to achieving program outcomes and was challenging. The purpose of the present study was to examine sample characteristics and mediating factors that potentially influenced program attendance. Methods: Data collected from parents who attended at least one PEACH™ Queensland session delivered between October 2013 and October 2015 (47 programs implemented in 29 discrete sites), was used in preliminary descriptive analyses of sample characteristics and multilevel single linear regression analyses. Mediation analysis examined associations between socio-demographic and parent characteristics and attendance at group sessions and potential mediation by child and parent factors. Results: 365/467 (78%) enrolled families (92% mothers) including 411/519 (79%) children (55% girls, mean age 9 ± 2 years) attended at least one session (mean 5.6 ± 3.2). A majority of families (69%) self-referred to the program. Program attendance was greater in: advantaged (5.9 ± 3.1 sessions) vs disadvantaged families (5.4 ± 3.4 sessions) (p < 0.05); partnered (6.1 ± 3.1 sessions) vs un-partnered parents (5.0 ± 3.1 sessions) (p < 0.01); higher educated (6.1 ± 3.0 sessions) vs lower educated parents (5.1 ± 3.3 sessions) (p = 0.02); and self-referral (6.1 ± 3.1) vs professional referral (4.7 ± 3.3) (p < 0.001). Child (age, gender, pre-program healthy eating) and parent (perceptions of child weight, self-efficacy) factors did not mediate these relationships. Conclusions: To promote reach and effectiveness of up-scaled programs, it is important to identify ways to engage less advantaged families who carry higher child obesity risk. Understanding differences in referral source and parent readiness for change may assist in tailoring program content. The influence of program-level factors (e.g. facilitator and setting characteristics) should be investigated as possible alternative mediators to program engagement.
- Childhood obesity
- Treatment programs