Parents’ perceptions of reasons for excess weight loss in obese children: a peer researcher approach.

Fiona Gillison, Geraldine Cooney, Val Woolhouse, Angie Davies, Fiona Dickens, Penny Marno

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5 Citations (SciVal)


Background: This study reports on the process of conducting participatory research by training peer researchers to conduct interviews and analyse data collected with parents of overweight children. The methodology was chosen as a means of (a) encouraging participation among a hard-to-engage group (i.e., parents of overweight children), and (b) generating novel insights and challenging academic/health professional assumptions through the involvement of parents in the interpretation of findings.
Methods: Four parents (all female) were recruited as peer researchers and trained in research processes, ethics, and interview skills over three half-day workshops. The intended interviewees were parents of children identified as obese through the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) at the start of primary school (age 4-5) but who had lost their excess weight by age 10-11; little is currently known about how this excess weight loss is achieved. Interviews were conducted by peer researchers, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically by both peer- and university-based investigators.
Results: The peer researchers felt confident to conduct interviews after three training sessions. Recruitment of interviewees was challenging, resulting in only four volunteers (all mothers) over a 5-month period; thus peer researchers were only able to conduct one interview each. All interviews were considered good quality in comparison to those conducted by Masters-level research assistants. The process of co-analysis resulted in a change in emphasis from that initially generated by the university research team; the role of health professionals in weight management was de-emphasised, and the importance of ‘not singling out’ overweight children accentuated. Given the limited number of interviews, the results of the study are only provisional but resulted in three themes: Whole Family Action, Support (and lack of support), and Protecting Childhood.
Conclusions: Training peer researchers to conduct and analyse interviews was feasible within a short period of training. Peer researchers found the experience interesting, informative and worthwhile. Two of the four volunteered to be involved in a related study 12 months later. The different perspective brought through co-analysis suggests that this approach to conducting participatory research may be a useful means of working with the public to generate new ideas to tackle intransigent issues.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch Involvement and Engagement
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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