We sought to determine the prevalence of, and identify factors associated with, parent questions about physical activity for their child with a chronic cardiac, respiratory, or rheumatologic condition.
This cross-sectional study of 56 children (32 [57%] female), 3 to 18 years of age, with chronic cardiac (n=21), respiratory (n=18), or rheumatologic (n=17) conditions involved a parent questionnaire about their child’s physical activity participation and measurement of the child’s activity with an omni-directional accelerometer for 1 week.
Parents of 20 (36%) children had at least one question about their child’s physical activity participation, and the prevalence of questions did not vary by age (Wald chi square = 0.77, P=0.38), gender (Wald chi square = 0.11, P=0.74), or clinic (Wald chi square = 1.77, P=0.41). Parent questions were associated (P = 0.04) with lower levels of activity for boys (95% confidence interval [CI] for estimated marginal means: With questions: 197, 395; Without questions: 346, 500) and higher levels of activity for girls (95% CI for estimated marginal means: With questions: 268, 448; Without questions: 239, 369). A multivariable logistic regression model found that parents with questions had higher odds of having a child who was less well (odds ratio [OR]=19.9 for unwell, OR=5.6 for generally well with some symptoms versus well and asymptomatic) and had a history of cardiac arrhythmia (OR=7.6).
Over one-third of parents reported having questions about physical activity for their child with a chronic medical condition, suggesting substantial uncertainty even among children reported as active. Presence of parent uncertainty is associated with parent reports of the child being unwell or a history of cardiac arrhythmia. By asking parents if they have questions about their child’s activity, health care professionals may be better able to identify inactive boys and overprotective attitudes toward active girls.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute