Perceptions of Health Providers about the Collection and Use of Data Related to Childhood Obesity by Mobile Health Units
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Background: Childhood obesity has become a serious medical concern affecting numerous families nationwide. One of the ways that the problem of childhood obesity is being addressed in the U.S. is through mobile health units that travel around communities to schools and neighborhoods and provide vital healthcare services to children and young adults, who might not otherwise have access to healthcare in their community. However, lack of resources, data sharing capability, and interconnectivity has often been the cause of these units not able to expand their coverage among the most vulnerable. Purpose: This study attempted to understand how mobile health workers’ data can be used to improve services and assist in combating childhood obesity. Method: The study utilized descriptive statistics to analyze survey responses and interviews to understand how mobile health unit (MHU) providers utilize collected data regarding childhood obesity. Results: Descriptive statistic results from fifteen healthcare providers generated meaningful recommendations that could be used by mobile healthcare units and healthcare providers nationwide, which in turn is expected to help make children healthier. It is further explained how the interaction between the mobile health worker and at-risk children must be increased, while resources must be spent in data integration, data sharing and properly training health workers. Conclusion: This study recommends further research into expanding mobile health workers’ access to data, ushering in an environment through collaboration, where health workers can learn and expand their knowledge base to appropriately use and increase their coverage of patients both currently in need and at-risk.