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Primary care patient and practitioner views of weight and weight-related discussion: a mixed methods study

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Objective To understand the beliefs that primary care practitioners (PCPs) and patients with overweight and obesity have about obesity and primary care weight management in Scotland.

Setting Seven National Health Service (NHS) Scotland primary care centres.

Participants A total of 305 patients and 14 PCPs (12 general practitioners; two practice nurses) participated.

Design and methodology A cross-sectional mixed-methods study. PCPs and patients completed questionnaires assessing beliefs about obesity and primary care weight communication and management. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with PCPs to elaborate on questionnaire topics. Quantitative and qualitative data were synthesised to address study objectives.

Results (1) Many patients with overweight and obesity did not accurately perceive their weight or risk of developing weight-related health issues; (2) PCPs and patients reported behavioural factors as the most important cause of obesity, and medical factors as the most important consequence; (3) PCPs perceive their role in weight management as awareness raising and signposting, not prevention or weight monitoring; (4) PCPs identify structural and patient-related factors as barriers to weight communication and management, but not PCP factors.

Conclusions Incongruent and/or inaccurate beliefs held by PCPs and patient may present barriers to effective weight discussion and management in primary care. There is a need to review, standardise and clarify primary care weight management processes in Scotland. Acknowledging a shared responsibility for obesity as a disease may improve outcomes for patients with overweight and obesity.



Original languageEnglish
Article numbere034023
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2020

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