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Obesity Counseling and Management
Effect of Counseling by Doctors on Body Weight and Physical Activity of Patients
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Obesity Counseling & Management

Obesity is one of the most common presenting chronic medical conditions in primary care, yet it is not adequately treated. Physicians are often reluctant to counsel patients because of their limited training in treating chronic weight problems and negative attitudes toward obese patients. This study evaluated the feasibility of training physicians to provide weight control counseling to their patients. Eleven physicians were randomly assigned to either an obesity-counseling skills training group or to a control group. Physicians in the counseling skills group received training in behavioral and motivational weight control techniques using a five-step patient-centered model; they were also given patient materials for use in their practice. To evaluate pretraining to posttraining changes in physician counseling behavior, independent samples of patients with obesity were surveyed immediately after their visit to the physician's office. Physicians in both the counseling skills training and the control groups discussed weight with 42 percent to 47 percent of their patients at baseline. This increased to 89 percent in physicians who received training, whereas it remained at 42 percent in control physicians. Scores on a counseling measure also significantly increased from a mean of 2.7 to 9.9 in the counseling group, whereas scores in the control group remained low and stable (2.3 and 1.9, respectively). The training program was effective in improving the frequency and quality of counseling that physicians delivered to their patients with obesity. Future research is needed to evaluate the effect of physician counseling on the weight and physical activity level of their patients.

Source: Simkin-Silverman LR, Wing RR. Department of Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.

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