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Publication Date

1-30-2018

Keywords

weight management, patient-provider communication, health promotion, women, physicians, medical education

Abstract

Purpose: The complexity of addressing overweight and obesity in women has been an ongoing public health and health care challenge. While the mechanism for addressing overweight and obesity in women remains unclear, it has been speculated that disparities in overweight and obesity by race and gender contribute to the complexity. The purpose of the present study was to examine perceptions of primary care physicians when discussing weight management with their patients.

Methods: We conducted focus group discussions exploring facilitators and barriers to discussing weight management and weight loss among women patients. Participants included 18 family medicine and internal medicine physicians who were recruited using a snowball sampling technique from two large urban institutions. Focus group discussions were transcribed verbatim. Responses were then codified and analyzed in frequency of occurrence using specialized computer software.

Results: Nine themes emerged from group discussions. These recurring themes reflected three overarching critical points: 1) potential utility of the primary care setting to address weight management; 2) the importance of positive patient-provider communication in supporting weight loss efforts; and 3) acknowledgement of motivation as intrinsic or extrinsic, and its role in obesity treatment.

Conclusions: Physician perceptions of their own lack of education or training and their inability to influence patient behaviors play crucial roles in discussing weight management with patients.

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