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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The feasibility of a physical activity counselling program in children with congenital heart disease Fukakusa, Bianca M.


Background: Children with congenital heart disease (CHD) now have excellent survival into adulthood but have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. One important strategy to mitigate this risk is through physical activity (PA) promotion. It is currently not known how to optimally improve PA in children with CHD. We aimed to determine the feasibility and acceptability of a theoretically based virtual PA counselling intervention for children and families with CHD and explore PA changes after the intervention. Methods: We designed a 12-week family-centered, individualized, virtual PA counselling intervention based on behaviour change theory. Children ages 9 to 12 with moderate-to-complex CHD were recruited from BC Children’s Hospital. At baseline, we measured participants’ moderate-to-vigorous PA using accelerometers and readiness to change their PA using a questionnaire to determine intervention eligibility. Participants who were not meeting the PA guidelines and expressed readiness to change qualified for the PA counselling intervention. The intervention consisted of 6 sessions with a PA counsellor via Zoom where participants learned strategies to promote PA through workbook activities. We measured PA again at the intervention midpoint, post-intervention, and one year follow-up. Intervention feasibility (recruitment, retention, completion of PA measures, remote delivery, session length, and time commitment) and acceptability (intervention compliance and participant feedback via interviews and surveys) were assessed. Results: Despite lower than anticipated recruitment rates, this intervention was feasible based on high retention, completion of PA measures, and remote delivery success. Participants were committed and engaged with the intervention as seen by excellent attendance and activity completion rates, and positive participant feedback via qualitative and quantitative measures. There were no significant differences in objective or subjective PA measures from pre-intervention to post-intervention but there were likely intervention responders and non-responders, and more data is needed to determine intervention sustainability. Conclusion: This PA counselling intervention is feasible and acceptable to families and children with CHD. All measures of acceptability encourage that the intervention is engaging and well received by children with CHD. Preliminary objective PA data suggests that the intervention may have facilitated increased PA for some participants.

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