Nutrition and Growth Conference, London, March 2023

Child health behaviour screening tools (i.e. screening for diet, physical activity, sleep and sedentary behaviours) used in primary health care have potential as a transformative and effective strategy to support growth monitoring and the early identification of suboptimal behaviours to target strategies for intervention.

Dimity Dutch, PhD Candidate at Flinders University, conducted a systematic review on childhood health behaviour screening in primary health care.  This work was presented at the 10th International Conference on Nutrition and Growth held in London, UK in March 2023, supported by EPOCH-Translate Academic Travel Award.  This international conference attracts multi-disciplinary health care practitioners and researchers, and provides an opportunity to learn, collaborate and discuss the latest knowledge regarding the interplay between nutrition and growth in children.

The key findings from the systematic review are:

  • Few comprehensive screening tools exist globally – Only fourteen unique screening tools were identified and only four tools measured all four health behaviour domains (diet, physical activity, sleep and sedentary behaviour)
  • Acceptability and feasibility of health behaviour screening tools is not well understood.
  • Screening tools showed promise in changing practitioner-reported knowledge, attitude, and practice.
  • Changing practice in primary health care is challenging – Change to routine practice requires collaboration with key stakeholders and the provision of adequate training and resources.

This systematic review forms a part of Dimity’s PhD program which is investigating the acceptability, feasibility and implementation of children’s health behaviour screening in routine primary health care as a strategy to support growth, health and development in the early years.

Next steps for Dimity’s PhD program will involve co-design workshops with primary health care practitioners and caregivers to understand their perspectives on health behaviour screening followed by a pilot feasibility trial planned for 2024.

Dimity’s PhD supervisory team includes Dr Lucinda Bell, Professor Elizabeth Denney-Wilson and Professor Rebecca Golley.

To read the pre-print version of the Systematic Review click here. This systematic review is co-authored by many EPOCH-Translate members and affiliates and Dimity would like to thank the authors for their contribution to the review.

If you would like to find out more or be involved in Dimity’s PhD project, please get in contact.

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