CONversation Cards

CONversation Cards 2018-03-01T17:52:27+00:00
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CONversation Cards© were created to enhance communication between parents and healthcare professionals working in pediatric weight management. They are conversation starters designed to help parents identify the biggest challenges they face when addressing issues related to their children’s weight and health. Once parents identify their challenges, healthcare professionals can align their counseling and interventions with the issues that are most important to families.

How to use the cards:

1. When a family arrives for their appointment they should be given the cards to review while they wait to be called to see the clinician.

2. Upon meeting with the clinician, the family passes on their chosen cards.

3. Take a moment to review the number of cards selected and note the themes. Some questions to ask yourself, “Did they select a high number of cards?”, “Are the cards all from the same theme?”, “Which ones do I feel are a priority to address first?”

4. Depending on the chosen cards, the issue might relate to an element of the family-clinician relationship which may simple require as adjustment by the clinician. For example, if a family has selected the card, “Medical terminology confuses me”, the clinician may want to check-in with the family more often and verify their understanding or offer definitions for key terms.

5. The cards are meant to guide the discussion and are not meant to limit the focus of the appointment. When meeting with a family, clinicians should acknowledge the fact that they may not be able to address all the cards, but will definitely keep them in mind moving forward.

Can I remove cards from the deck or only use certain sections of the deck? 2018-01-20T19:23:49+00:00

While you can adjust the deck to your needs, the cards were developed to provide a holistic view of what families may be experiencing in weight management, while maintaining a manageable number of cards. As such, many sections only address some possible issues and may not be appropriate to use on their own.

How can I help a family that has selected cards relating to physical activity, if I am a Dietitian? 2018-01-20T19:23:02+00:00

It is important to tell the family that you see that they are struggling around issues dealing with physical activity. Perhaps offer them some resources (website, pamphlets) to address the immediate need. However, explain to them that nutrition is also important and go over some basic ideas with them. The key is to realize that they may not see nutrition as a priority at the moment, therefore keep things simple and hopefully next time they will have different needs.

What if a family selects over five cards, how am I supposed to address them all? 2018-01-20T19:22:25+00:00

If a family has selected over five cards, it may be an indication that they are overwhelmed with the number of things they are faced with relating to weight management. This is important because you do not want to provide them with more information if they already feel an overload. It may be useful to ask them to look over the selected cards again and select their top 3. This helps to set the top priorities while also keeping in mind how the family is feeling.


There cards were developed by researchers and clinicians at the University of Alberta and Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
We are always looking to improve these cards and welcome your feedback. Please send suggestions, comments or questions to Dr. Geoff Ball (


Note: Subscriptions may be required to view the articles below. 

Kebbe M, Byrne JLS, Damanhoury S, Ball GDC. Following suit: using Conversation Cards for priority setting in pediatric weight management. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2017 May 3. [Epub ahead of print]

doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.03.020.

PMID: 28479009

Ball GD, Farnesi BC, Newton AS, Holt NL, Geller J, Sharma AM, Johnson ST, Matteson CL, Finegood DT. Join the conversation! The development and preliminary application of conversation cards in pediatric weight management. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2013 Sep-Oct;45(5):476-8.

doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2013.02.002.

PMID: 23602164

Farnesi BC, Ball GD, Newton AS. Family-health professional relations in pediatric weight management: an integrative review. Pediatric Obesity. 2012 Jun;7(3):175-86.

doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2012.00029.x.

PMID: 22492659

Farnesi BC, Newton AS, Holt NL, Sharma AM, Ball GD. Exploring collaboration between clinicians and parents to optimize pediatric weight management. Patient Education and Counseling. 2012 Apr;87(1):10-7.

doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.08.011.

PMID: 21925825

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