BACKGROUND: Data are lacking on primary care interventions to reduce children's television viewing. Low-income African-American children watch greater amounts of television than their peers. DESIGN/METHODS: A randomized controlled pilot and feasibility trial was conducted. Twenty- eight families with 7- to 12-year-old African-American children receiving primary care at an urban community clinic serving a low- income population were randomized to receive counseling alone or counseling plus a behavioral intervention that included an electronic television time manager. The main outcome was hours of children's television, videotape, and video game use. Parents/guardians and children completed baseline and 4-week follow-up self-report surveys. Additional outcomes included overall household television use, time spent in organized physical activity and playing outside, and meals eaten by the child while watching television. RESULTS: Both intervention groups reported similar decreases in children's television, videotape, and video game use (mean changes of -13.7, SD=26.1 and -14.1, SD=16.8 hours per week). The behavioral intervention group reported significantly greater increases in organized physical activity (changes of +2.5, SD=5.9 and -3.6, SD=4.7 hours per week; p =0.004) and nearly significant greater increases in playing outside (changes of 1.0, SD=5.9 and -4.7, SD=9.4 hours per week; p 0.06). Changes in overall household television use and meals eaten while watching television also appeared to favor the behavioral intervention, with small to medium effect sizes, but differences were not statistically significant. CONCLUSIONS: This small pilot and feasibility study evaluated two promising primary care-based interventions to reduce television, videotape, and video game use among low-income African-American children. The effects on physical activity suggest that the behavioral intervention may be more effective.
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