To explore parents' experiences when discussing child overweight issues with the Maternal and Child Health nurse.
Community-based child and family health nurses are in a unique position to discuss child overweight and obesity with parents. However, studies of parents' experiences in this context are lacking.
Ten mothers of children identified as overweight or obese from regional Victoria, Australia, were interviewed in 2017. Data were analysed using an inductive qualitative thematic approach. The COREQ guidelines were used to ensure study rigour.
In summary, the analysis revealed experiences of Maternal and Child Health nurses "brushing over" the topic, with a lack of information provided about how to tackle the problem at home. The interpersonal relationship aspect of continuity of care was described as facilitating awareness of the child's overweight, although mothers expressed confusion about what constituted a "healthy weight range." While some mothers perceived the nurse's role was to offer evidence-based information and support, others saw the family doctor as the appropriate health professional to address the problem.
The findings of this study indicate that parents are often left unsure how to manage their child's weight despite the child being identified as overweight or obese by their Maternal and Child Health nurse.
Relevance to clinical practice
Discussions about overweight and obesity may be facilitated by continuity of care where established relationships serve as a facilitator for effective communication. The findings further indicate a need for more structured support of Maternal and Child Health nurses working with parents of young children identified as overweight or obese, including ongoing education, skill development and improved understanding of parental health literacy and its links to childhood obesity.