Childhood obesity is a global health concern, but children with spina bifida in particular have unique interacting risk factors for increased weight.
Purpose: To identify and explore current clinical practices around weight assessment and management in pediatric spina bifida clinics.
Methods: An online, self-report survey of healthcare professionals (HCPs) was conducted in all pediatric spina bifida clinics across Canada (15 clinics). Summary and descriptive statistics were calculated and descriptive thematic analysis was performed on free text responses.
Results: 52 responses across all 15 clinics indicated that weight and height were assessed and recorded most of the time using a wide variety of methods, although some HCPs questioned their suitability for children with spina bifida. Weight and height information was not routinely communicated to patients and their families and HCPS identified considerable barriers to discussing weight-related information in consultations.
Conclusion: Despite weight and height reportedly being measured regularly, HCPs expressed concern over the lack of appropriate assessment and classification tools. Communication across multi-disciplinary team members is required to ensure that children with weight-related issues do not inadvertently get overlooked. Specific skill training around weight-related issues and optimizing consultation time should be explored further for HCPs working with this population.
Keywords: Rehabilitation; children; disability; obesity; spina bifida.