Introduction: Participant retention is a frequent concern in structured weight-management programs. Although research has explored participant characteristics influencing retention, little attention has been given to the influence of program characteristics. The objective of this study was to examine how program characteristics relate to participant retention in the Veterans Health Administration's weight-management program, MOVE! Methods: We conducted semistructured interviews with coordinators of 12 MOVE! programs located throughout the United States, 5 with high participant retention rates and 7 with low rates. We transcribed and descriptively coded interviews and compared responses from high- and low-retention programs. Results: Characteristics related to retention were provider knowledge of and referral to the program, reputation of the program within the medical facility, the MOVE! meeting schedule, inclusion of physical activity in group meetings, and involvement of the MOVE! physician champion. MOVE! introductory sessions, frequency of group meetings, and meeting topics were not related to retention. Coordinators described efforts to improve retention, including participant contracts and team competitions. Coordinators at 5 high-retention facilities and 1 low-retention facility discussed efforts to improve retention. Conclusion: Coordinators identified important program characteristics that could guide improvements to retention in group-based weight-management programs. Training for providers is needed to assist with referral decisions, and program planners should consider incorporating physical activity in group meetings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health Policy