Getting our teens talking!

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It has been a while (a while as in a year, oops!) since my last post on this blog, but I am happy to share that it has been a productive time since.

After our teens completed our priority-setting activity in March 2018,  we involved them in co-designing our clinical, bilingual (English and French) tool, Conversation Cards for Adolescents (CCAs). We designed CCAs to help streamline conversations between teens and clinicians and to facilitate health behavior change. Briefly, CCAs are a 45-deck of cards divided into 3 categories (barriers, enablers, potential enablers) and distributed over 7 suits (nutrition, physical activity, sedentariness, sleep, mental well-being, relationships, at the clinic).

Our next steps are to assess CCAs for feasibility, user experiences, and preliminary impact in changing lifestyle behaviors of teens with obesity. This pilot randomized controlled trial will include 9 clinicians and 50 teens, and will be conducted at the Northeast Community Health Centre (Alberta Health Services, Edmonton, AB).

As of January 28, 2019, 500 English and 200 French copies of CCAs were printed in collaboration with Obesity Canada and can be ordered online. CCAs were disseminated on several other academic blogs, including Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes. For more information on the development of CCAs, please refer to publications here, here, and here.


What are teens’ priorities for lifestyle-based weight management?


Priority identification by direct stakeholders is a key goal of patient-oriented research.

From one-on-one interviews with teens receiving multidisciplinary clinical care in Edmonton and Ottawa, we got an extensive outlook on the factors that positively or negatively influence setting and implementing lifestyle-based treatment goals for weight management.

Now that we have compiled these into a list, we are counting on our teens to prioritize these factors to determine their perceived areas of highest importance to effectively manage their weight. This involves completing three online ‘consensus survey’ (Delphi study) rounds with our teens.

Stay tuned!


& that’s a wrap!

I would like to dedicate this post to everyone at the Centre for Healthy Active Living (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, Ontario), including the team and participating Francophone adolescents, and my supervisor for initiating and facilitating the collaboration.

Over the past month, we were able to recruit and interview 7 adolescents who were eager to provide their insights and perspectives on their lifestyle habits and implications in treatment formation (e.g., decision-making) at the clinic. This concludes data collection for Study 2 of my thesis and opens the stage for the next step (Study 3), in which adolescents from our sites in Edmonton and Ottawa will further refine and prioritize the data collected prior to developing our tool.

A huge thank you to everyone on the team for putting their time and efforts into these final stages, especially over the holidays!



One step closer

TEENSAID Interviews

After my Patient Engagement Panel with teens a couple of months ago, I used their insights to make some adjustments to my proposal and interview guide for Study 2 of my thesis – a qualitative study exploring lifestyle behaviors of teens with obesity and dynamics in health services delivery for weight management.

Since then, I have conducted 12 interviews with teens at the Pediatric Centre for Weight and Health (Stollery Children’s Hospital, Edmonton, AB) – in English. Today, we received the great news of our ethics approval for our second study site, the Centre for Health Active Living  (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, ON). I will therefore be heading to Ottawa next week to complete the bilingual portion of this study – interviews in French. With this, huge thank you to our CHAL collaborators for their involvement and continuous support.


The focus in ‘focus group’


To date, the updates I’ve shared through this blog have been mostly teen-centered and consistent with spirits of patient-oriented research. This includes engaging teens not only as participants, but also as partners, in research. When research is set to inform health services delivery (e.g., development of a clinical tool), however, it is equally important to gain insight from all relevant stakeholders, including health care providers (HCPs).

One component of Study 2 of my thesis consists of holding focus groups with HCPs. The focus? To explore HCPs’ perspectives on the lifestyle behaviours and role of teens in weight management discussions and decisions as well as clinical tools that could be used to enable constructive conversations and priority-setting with teens.

Earlier this week, we held our first focus group with clinical and research team members (n=4), after which the interview guide and processes (e.g., methods of delivery) were refined and finalized. Today, we held the second focus group (out of three) with HCPs (n=6; dietitian, exercise specialist, nurse, pediatrician, psychologist, and social worker) at the Pediatric Centre for Weight and Health (Stollery Children’s Hospital, Edmonton, AB). Throughout the one-hour we spent together, our participants showed great enthusiasm for this research, were very engaged in the discussion, and had important anecdotal experiences and insights to share. Once again, I’d like to acknowledge and thank everyone who participated in both focus groups for their time, interest, and support!



What does the literature say? – Publication

The foundation for successful weight management relies on a healthy lifestyle. Teens have been shown to have suboptimal lifestyle habits, so it was important to identify the factors that help or don’t help in this area.

For Study 1 of my thesis, I completed a scoping review and stakeholder consultation to explore what makes it easy or hard for teens in weight management to make and maintain healthy diet, activity, and sleep habits. Our findings were recently published in Obesity Reviews. To complement our (lengthy!) publication, I created a visual infographic (below) to summarize what we found, which will also be shared via other social media platforms (e.g., Strategies for Patient-Oriented Research, Canadian Obesity Network).

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Teens? Doing Research?

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When I started graduate school, the last thing I thought I would be doing was working hand in hand with teens on research. But, I gradually started leaning towards the valuable niche of patient-oriented research and incorporating it into my own studies.

Today, I had my first Patient Engagement Panel with teens with obesity to inform Study 2 of my thesis. We touched on many topics, from experiences and priorities of teens in relation to weight management to preferences for research.

Although it was very valuable for the next steps of my research, it also reminded me of what it’s like to be a teen (those days are long gone!), and the importance of meaningful conversation with and support for this age group.