Open Access Research article

Health professional perspectives on lifestyle behaviour change in the paediatric hospital setting: a qualitative study

Laura Elwell1*, Jane Powell3, Sharon Wordsworth4 and Carole Cummins12

Author Affiliations

1 Research and Development, Birmingham Children’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Whittal Street, Birmingham B4 6NH, UK

2 School of Health and Population Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK

3 Children and Families Division, Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Moseley Hall Hospital, Alcester Road, Birmingham B13 8JL, UK

4 Joint Commissioning, Coventry City Council, Civic Centre 1, Little Park Street, Coventry CV1 5RS, UK

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BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:71  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-71

Published: 13 March 2014



Research exists examining the challenges of delivering lifestyle behaviour change initiatives in practice. However, at present much of this research has been conducted with primary care health professionals, or in acute adult hospital settings. The purpose of this study was to identify barriers and facilitators associated with implementing routine lifestyle behaviour change brief advice into practice in an acute children’s hospital.


Thirty-three health professionals (nurses, junior doctors, allied health professionals and clinical support staff) from inpatient and outpatient departments at a UK children’s hospital were interviewed about their attitudes and beliefs towards supporting lifestyle behaviour change in hospital patients and their families. Responses were analysed using thematic framework analysis.


Health professionals identified a range of barriers and facilitators to supporting lifestyle behaviour change in a children’s hospital. These included (1) personal experience of effectiveness, (2) constraints associated with the hospital environment, (3) appropriateness of advice delivery given the patient’s condition and care pathway and (4) job role priorities, and (5) perceived benefits of the advice given. Delivery of lifestyle behaviour change advice was often seen as an educational activity, rather than a behaviour change activity.


Factors underpinning the successful delivery of routine lifestyle behaviour change support must be understood if this is to be implemented effectively in paediatric acute settings. This study reveals key areas where paediatric health professionals may need further support and training to achieve successful implementation.

Healthy lifestyles; Paediatrics; Health promotion; Qualitative