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Postgrad Med. 2011 Sep;123(5):214-9. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2011.09.2477.

Primary care physician attitudes and practice patterns in the management of obese adults: results from a national survey.

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  • 1CE Outcomes, LLC, Birmingham, AL 35211, USA.



Obesity remains a serious public health problem. The purpose of this study was to identify the current attitudes and practices of primary care physicians (PCPs) with respect to obesity.


A survey was systematically developed and administered electronically to PCPs, who received a small honorarium for their time. Results were analyzed to identify specific attitudes and practices and their associations with each other and with demographic and other variables.


Physicians expressed little confidence in their ability to manage obesity. In general, however, they believed that obesity could be successfully managed. Lifestyle changes were perceived to be the most effective available method for patients to lose weight, and respondents were more likely to recommend this approach over pharmacotherapy or bariatric surgery. Respondents perceive the greatest barrier to managing obese patients to be a lack of patient motivation. Physicians were significantly more likely to initiate discussions with obese patients about their weight if they believed they had positive attitudes about and knowledge of weight management, and adequate resources to manage the problem.


Physicians report a lack of confidence in managing obesity. Lack of patient motivation is perceived to be the greatest barrier. Physicians with greater knowledge, more positive attitudes toward obesity management, and access to more resources are more likely to provide weight management in primary care settings.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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