Predictors of attrition from a pediatric weight management program

J Pediatr. 2004 Apr;144(4):466-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2003.12.031.


Objective: The current study examined characteristics of families who initiated weight management treatment for their obese child/adolescent and withdrew prematurely.

Study design: Participants (body mass index > or =95(th) percentile) were enrolled in a pediatric interdisciplinary weight management clinic. Retrospective chart review revealed noncompleters (n=116) completed > or =1 visit(s) but withdrew before completion of the initial 4-month treatment phase. Completers (n=96) completed the initial treatment phase. Completers and noncompleters were compared on baseline demographic, psychological, clinical, and laboratory measures. Regression analyses assessed the degree to which these factors predicted attrition.

Results: Fifty-five percent of patients withdrew prematurely from treatment. Noncompleters were more likely to be Medicaid recipients, black, older, and self-report greater depressive symptomatology and lower self-concept.

Conclusions: These data have implications for the design of pediatric weight management intervention models that improve the rate of completion for economically disadvantaged and minority youth. Screening for depressive symptomatology may identify patients at risk for treatment dropout who could be targeted for increased support and retention strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Factors
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Depression / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Medicaid / statistics & numerical data
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Dropouts / statistics & numerical data*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Self Concept
  • Weight Loss*