The Balance protocol: a pragmatic weight gain prevention randomized controlled trial for medically vulnerable patients within primary care.
BACKGROUND: For patients with obesity who are not ready for or experience barriers to weight loss, clinical practice guidelines recommend provider counseling on preventing further weight gain as a first-line treatment approach. Unfortunately, evidence-based weight gain prevention interventions are not routinely available within primary care. To address this gap, we will implement a pragmatic 12-month randomized controlled trial of a digital weight gain prevention intervention delivered to patients receiving primary care within a network of Federally Qualified Community Health Centers in central North Carolina. METHODS: Balance (Equilibrio in Spanish) is a pragmatic effectiveness trial that will randomize adult patients who have overweight or obesity (BMI of 25-40 kg/m2) to either: 1) a weight gain prevention intervention with tailored behavior change goals and tracking, daily weighing on a network-connected electronic scale, and responsive weight and goal coaching delivered remotely by health center registered dietitians; or 2) a usual care program with automated healthy living text messages and print materials and routine primary care. The primary outcome will be weight gain prevention at 24-months, defined as ≤3% change in baseline weight. To align with its pragmatic design, trial outcome data will be pulled from the electronic health record of the community health center network. DISCUSSION: For underserved, often rurally-located patients with obesity, digital approaches to promote a healthy lifestyle can curb further weight gain. Yet enrolling medically vulnerable patients into a weight gain prevention trial, many of whom are from racial/ethnic minorities, can be difficult. Despite these potential challenges, we plan to recruit a large, diverse sample from rural areas, and will implement a remotely-delivered weight gain prevention intervention to medically vulnerable patients. Upcoming trial results will demonstrate the effectiveness of this pragmatic approach to implement and evaluate a digital weight gain prevention intervention within primary care. TRIALS REGISTRATION: NCT03003403 . Registered December 28, 2016.
Berger, MB; Steinberg, DM; Askew, S; Gallis, JA; Treadway, CC; Egger, JR; Kay, MC; Batch, BC; Finkelstein, EA; DeVries, A; Brewer, A; Bennett, GG
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