Development of Brief Child Nutrition and Physical Activity Screening Questions for Electronic Health Record Use.


To develop and test brief nutrition and physical activity screening questions for children ages 2-11 years that could be used as a pragmatic screening tool to tailor counseling, track behavior change, and improve population health. A literature review identified existing validated questions for nutrition and physical activity behaviors in children ages 2-11 years. Response variation and concurrent validity was then assessed using a mechanical Turk (MTurk) crowdsourcing survey employed in 2018. Additionally, cognitive interviews were conducted with both providers and parents of 2- to 11-year-old children to assess screening question priorities and perceived added value. The literature review identified 260 questions, and 20 items were selected with expert guidance based on prespecified criteria (simplicity and potential utility for both clinical interactions during a well-child exam and population health). MTurk surveys yielded 1147 records that met eligibility criteria and revealed 6 items that had adequate response variation and were significantly correlated with parent-reported child BMI or BMI percentile, exhibiting concurrent validity. Cognitive interviews with 10 providers and 20 parents uncovered themes regarding suggestions and usability of the questions, eliminating 3 items due to parent and provider concerns. Combining quantitative and qualitative results, 3 nutrition and physical activity screening items remained for inclusion into the electronic health record (EHR). The three-pronged validation methodology produced a brief, 3-item child nutrition and physical activity screener to incorporate in the EHR, where it can inform tailored counseling for well-child care and be used to test associations with population health outcomes.