Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


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A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education, Under the supervision of Professor Susan M. Sheridan. Lincoln, Nebraska: May, 2011

Copyright 2011 Carrie A. Semke


An estimated 17.1% of children and adolescents ages 2-19 are obese (Ogden et al., 2006). Obesity is linked to adverse physical, psychosocial, and academic consequences for children. Treatments that collaboratively involve individuals in the child’s microsystems (e.g., home, school) result in improved health outcomes. Few studies have mutually involved both parents and school personnel in treatments. Conjoint Behavioral Consultation (CBC; Sheridan & Kratochwill, 2008) is an indirect service-delivery model that joins microsystems to address child concerns, and provides a model for delivering comprehensive treatments to improve the health behaviors of children with obesity. No previous studies have investigated CBC for health behaviors. The purpose of this study is to examine the efficacy of CBC for improving child health behaviors and health status for children with obesity.

Four child participants and their parents and school personnel participated in a health behavior intervention implemented within CBC. Families and school personnel, together with a CBC consultant, assessed child health behaviors, designed and implemented a multi-component health behavior intervention, and evaluated intervention effects. Utilizing a multiple baseline design across behaviors, the intervention was introduced across dietary and physical activity behaviors in a staggered fashion over time for each child. The efficacy of the intervention implemented within CBC was assessed via its effects on specified health behaviors and health status (i.e., BMI) of each child participant. Additionally, caregiver, school personnel, and child perceptions were assessed to evaluate social validity.

Overall, results of the study were varied. For most child participants, substantial changes were observed for dietary and physical activity behaviors at home and school. However, data appeared to vary across participants. It appeared that changes in health behaviors and BMI were higher for children whose parents and school personnel implemented treatment recommendations with high integrity. Social validity data indicated that parents, school personnel, and children found the CBC program effective. Future research should examine the effectiveness of CBC for health behaviors for a larger sample of children with obesity.

Advisor: Susan M. Sheridan