Strategies to reduce attrition in managing paediatric obesity: A systematic review

Geoff D. C. Ball*, Meghan Sebastianski, Jessica Wijesundera, Diana Keto-Lambert, Josephine Ho, Ian Zanlea, Arnaldo Perez, James D. Nobles, Joseph A. Skelton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review


OBJECTIVE: To conduct a systematic review of the literature for strategies designed to reduce attrition in managing paediatric obesity.

METHODS: We searched Ovid Medline (1946 to May 6, 2020), Ovid Embase (1974 to May 6, 2020), EBSCO CINAHL (inception to May 6, 2020), Elsevier Scopus (inception to April 14, 2020), and ProQuest Dissertations & Theses (inception to April 14, 2020). Reports were eligible if they included any obesity management intervention, included 2 to 18 year olds with overweight or obesity (or if the mean age of participants fell within this age range), were in English, included experimental study designs, and had attrition reduction as a main outcome. Two team members screened studies, abstracted data, and appraised study quality.

RESULTS: Our search yielded 5415 original reports; five met inclusion criteria. In two studies, families attended an orientation session as an attrition-reduction strategy before treatment enrollment; in three others, text messaging and motivational interviewing supplemented existing obesity management interventions. Attrition-reduction strategies led to decreased attrition in two studies, increased in one, and no difference in two. For the two strategies that reduced attrition, (a) pre-treatment orientation and (b) text messaging between children and intervention providers were beneficial. The quality of the five included studies varied (good [n = 3]; poor [n = 2]).

CONCLUSION: Some evidence suggests that attrition can be reduced. The heterogeneity of approaches applied and small number of studies included highlight the need for well-designed, experimental research to test the efficacy and effectiveness of strategies to reduce attrition in managing paediatric obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12733
Number of pages12
JournalPediatric Obesity
Early online date22 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sep 2020


  • Attrition
  • Child
  • Obesity Management
  • Pediatric Obesity
  • Systematic Review


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