PCORI is short for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, an independent nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.
In 2018 it awarded a seven-million dollar research grant to a team for the purpose of “comparing clinic and consumer information technology approaches,” in the service of preventing childhood obesity by promoting healthy behaviors. This was innovative because few clinical trials were even concerned with obesity prevention in the first year of life.
Another difference was that an effort was being made here to be “literacy-sensitive,” to be conscious that some parents, for whatever reason, are not prepared to deal competently with the written word. Would information technology be more efficacious in helping such parents develop the necessary awareness and skills to give their kids the healthiest possible start in life?
Nine hundred families were involved in this effort, through six pediatric clinics all participating in protocols recommended by the CORNET and PCORnet research networks. During each child’s first 18 months of life, there would be nine well-child visits, which would be handled in one of two different ways. For some of the infants, the pediatricians would distribute “low-literacy, age-specific parent education booklets” designed to encourage healthy family behaviors that would prevent obesity.
In the other arm of the study, rather than booklets, parents would receive the same information by way of “a technology-assisted parent education program that includes a web/mobile platform for education and behavior change and a text messaging strategy designed for lower socioeconomic status populations.”
The team was led by Russell Rothman, M.D., MPP, of Vanderbilt University Medical Center who said,
This study design will allow us to determine whether added technology can provide support outside the clinic to promote behavior change and obesity prevention.”
The two parts were called Greenlight and Greenlight Plus:
Families randomized to Greenlight Plus receive the Greenlight intervention plus a health information technology intervention, which includes: 1) personalized, automated text-messages that facilitate caregiver self-monitoring of tailored and age-appropriate child heath behavior goals; and 2) a web-based, personalized dashboard that tracks child weight status, progress on goals, and electronic Greenlight content access.
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Source: “Study uses IT to prevent early childhood obesity,” Vanderbilt.edu, 12/20/18
Source: “The greenlight plus trial…,” JohnHopkins.edu, Dec. 2022
Image by Oak Ridge National Laboratory/CC BY 2.0