Predicting attrition patterns from pediatric weight management programs
Proceedings of the 2nd Machine Learning for Health symposium, PMLR 193:326-342, 2022.
Obesity is a major public health concern. Multidisciplinary pediatric weight management programs are considered standard treatment for children with obesity who are not able to be successfully managed in the primary care setting. Despite their great potential, high dropout rates (referred to as attrition) are a major hurdle in delivering successful interventions. Predicting attrition patterns can help providers reduce the alarmingly high rates of attrition (up to 80%) by engaging in earlier and more personalized interventions. Previous work has mainly focused on finding static predictors of attrition on smaller datasets and has achieved limited success in effective prediction. In this study, we have collected a five-year comprehensive dataset of 4,550 children from diverse backgrounds receiving treatment at four pediatric weight management programs in the US. We then developed a machine learning pipeline to predict (a) the likelihood of attrition, and (b) the change in body-mass index (BMI) percentile of children, at different time points after joining the weight management program. Our pipeline is greatly customized for this problem using advanced machine learning techniques to process longitudinal data, smaller-size data, and interrelated prediction tasks. The proposed method showed strong prediction performance as measured by AUROC scores (average AUROC of 0.77 for predicting attrition, and 0.78 for predicting weight outcomes).