Masters Thesis

School nurse role in the management of childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is increasing and has many negative outcomes. The increasing rates of childhood obesity have caused nurses to evaluate their role in the prevention and treatment of this health issue. Because school nurses can be central components in combating childhood obesity, the purpose of this study is to explore school nurse perceptions of childhood obesity and their perceived role in the prevention and treatment of this condition. To be able to explain the relationship between school nurse perceptions and the type of interventions performed, the Health Promotion Model was used as the theoretical framework. This study used a quantitative descriptive design to replicate a study by Moyers, Bugle, and Jackson (2005). School nurses in California were surveyed regarding their perceptions of childhood obesity. Almost all of the school nurses (98.7%) in this study felt that childhood obesity is becoming more prevalent and almost three-fourths (72.2%) of the participants believed that schools are not doing enough to help alleviate childhood obesity. The school nurses were supportive of schools having comprehensive health curriculums and physical educational programs, but they were less supportive of treatment and counseling for obese children. One fourth of the school nurses did not recommend treatment for weight loss and less than half ( 4 7%) of school nurses provided counseling and referral for children with obesity only when the parents asked for help. The barriers to school nurses having a more active role in the treatment of childhood obesity were a perceived lack of competence in recommending weight loss programs for children, perceived difficulties in both designing programs and counseling children, perceived futility of counseling obese children, and a perceived lack of parental concern.

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