Research update | Reboot Kids

Research update | Reboot Kids

Developing positive food habits after cancer treatment can be the difference between a fit future and illness issues.

Reboot Kids is a pilot program funded by The Kids' Cancer Project and being tested to help families affected by childhood cancer to navigate this important aspect of post-treatment care – redeveloping and maintaining a healthy diet.

Preliminary data analysed showed that due to physical and metabolic changes brought about by treatment, young cancer survivors don’t eat a big enough variety of fruits and can miss out on important vitamins and minerals.

Discover more: Research Project Reboot-Kids 

Dr Lauren Winkler, the Reboot Kids Study Coordinator at The Behavioural Sciences Unit, Kids Cancer Centre, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick says that despite challenges presented by the pandemic, important milestones are being met.

“COVID-19 restrictions and lockdowns threatened to disrupt many research projects around Australia in 2020 and 2021,” says Lauren, “But I’m proud to say the Reboot Kids team were able to continue their work providing much needed nutritional support to young cancer survivors and their families.”

Reboot Kids research update on track Image

Study recruitment on track

Since launching Reboot Kids in June 2020, the team has recruited 32 parents into the program and the halfway mark of recruiting to total sample size of 80 is in sight.

“In all, 18 of the 32 participating parents have completed a pre and post survey and eight of the 32 parents are still actively working through the program,” says Lauren.

“We continue to receive very positive feedback from our participating families,” says Lauren.

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Kate, a Reboot Kids participant shares how the program encouraged her daughters to make healthy choices, particularly as one is a survivor of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

“We have really enjoyed the program and it was exactly the push we needed,” says Kate. “We now always keep some chocolate bliss balls in the fridge for treats.”

“Afternoon snacks are now prepared and healthier plus the kids are loving cooking and eating more of a variety of fresh vegetables,” she says with a final “Hooray!”

Reboot Kids research update on track 2 Image

With participants hailing from all around the country, the sample size has largely been from New South Wales. To address this, Lauren sought out a specialist in Melbourne who could spread the word in Victoria.

“We engaged Kristin Mellett, a senior oncology dietitian at Monash Children’s Hospital,” says Lauren. “She is actively recruiting families in her state and already we have had one Monash parent complete the program.”

Evaluating success

Reviewing online data to determine whether parents complete the program is one metric of success for the study but being able to hear first-hand experiences it is another important aspect to build a wholistic viewpoint

“We recently received full ethics approval to invite Reboot Kids parents to take part in a brief program evaluation telephone interview,” says Lauren. “This qualitative data will be analysed by a fourth-year medical student from UNSW Sydney as part of his dissertation.”

“Kevin Woo, will be joining us and evaluating the parent experiences of participating in a hybrid online/telephone dietary program for young survivors of childhood cancer,” Lauren says.

Reboot Kids across the ditch

Because children’s cancer is considered a rare disease, international collaborations are vital to learn more about the disease and how to treat it effectively.

“We have an exciting opportunity to introduce Reboot Kids to childhood cancer survivors in New Zealand,” says Lauren. “And we can potentially do this through collaboration with Dr Amy Lovell at the University of Auckland.”

Dr Lovell is a lecturer at the University of Auckland in the Discipline of Nutrition, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and is a paediatric oncology dietitian at Starship Hospital, Auckland.

“We are collaborating with Dr Lovell to write a grant to recruit NZ families into the Reboot Kids program and expand our trial internationally,” says Lauren.

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