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Prev Med. 2004 Jun;38(6):819-27.

Speaking of weight: how patients and primary care clinicians initiate weight loss counseling.

Author information

1
Department of Family Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. scottjg@umdnj.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Obesity is epidemic in the US and other industrialized countries and contributes significantly to population morbidity and mortality. Primary care physicians see a substantial portion of the obese population, yet rarely counsel patients to lose weight.

METHODS:

Descriptive field notes of outpatient visits collected as part of a multimethod comparative case study were used to study patterns of physician-patient communication around weight control in 633 encounters in family practices in a Midwestern state.

RESULTS:

Sixty-eight percent of adults and 35% of children were overweight. Excess weight was mentioned in 17% of encounters with overweight patients, while weight loss counseling occurred with 11% of overweight adults and 8% of overweight children. In weight loss counseling encounters, patients formulated weight as a problem by making it a reason for visit or explicitly or implicitly asking for help with weight loss. Clinicians did so by framing weight as a medical problem in itself or as an exacerbating factor for another medical problem.

CONCLUSIONS:

Strategies that increase the likelihood of patients identifying weight as a problem, or that provide clinicians with a way to "medicalize" the patient's obesity, are likely to increase the frequency of weight loss counseling in primary care visits.

PMID:
15193904
DOI:
10.1016/j.ypmed.2004.01.001
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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