Understanding Social Needs of Families with Young Overweight Children in an Urban Primary Care Setting: A Mixed-Methods Study
Unmet social needs, such as stable housing, reliable access to food and treatment of parental depression are associated with childhood overweight. Little information exists on parental perception of addressing these needs. We sought to understand the perspective of parents of young overweight children on how to best address social needs in the primary care setting. We conducted a mixed-methods study. The 11-item WE CARE survey, PHQ-2, and 2-item food insecurity screener were used to screen for social needs. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with English-speaking parents of overweight (BMI ≥ 85%) children 2-5 years of age with Medicaid. Interviews assessed parental perception about addressing social needs in the primary care setting. Twenty-two parents participated. Parents responded positively to having a social need 46 times on the WE CARE survey, with the majority being in the areas of smoking cessation and employment. However, parents reported that they did not want to address the majority of these needs at the visit. Only 2 of 11 parents who screened positive for depression on the PHQ-2 endorsed wanting help to address mood, and only 1 in 10 who screened positive for food insecurity endorsed wanting help accessing food. Two salient themes arose during the interviews that influence asking for support: 1) level of comfort disclosing needs and 2) family resourcefulness and resiliency. Discomfort was associated with parental fear of being considered neglectful and involvement of child protective services. Though a majority of parents found the screener to be useful, they suggested reframing to highlight support available, emphasizing how resources may benefit the child. Screening tools may benefit from adaptation for families are uncomfortable asking for support or who are resourceful at meeting their needs. Emphasizing the non-punitive nature and providing information on resources upfront may promote resource utilization among this patient population.
Recommended CitationRobbins, MD, MPHc, Jennifer; Phan, MD, MPH, Thao-Ly; Spencer, PhD, Tirzah; Datto, MD, George; and Abatemarco, PhD, MSW, Diane J., "Understanding Social Needs of Families with Young Overweight Children in an Urban Primary Care Setting: A Mixed-Methods Study" (2018). Master of Public Health Thesis and Capstone Presentations. Presentation 266.