New review assesses patients’ perspectives of clinical consultations related to weight

A recent review in Clinical Obesity assessed patients’ reactions to consultations with physicians in which excess weight could have been or was discussed.

In the review of 21 qualitative studies interviewing people who were overweight or obese who had consulted a primary care clinician, participants had only occasional interactions with clinicians about their weight, and the most important and most commonly reported were negative experiences.

Where interactions addressed weight, the language used, the tone of the consultation, and the nature of the advice were critical. Participants reported being given advice that was unhelpful or that implied they were stupid.

On occasions, participants reported discussions about weight loss options available and this was universally appreciated.

No one appreciated being scolded about being overweight or made to feel personally responsible for symptoms potentially related to weight.

Some participants felt their health problems were dismissed as obviously weight-related and left unexplored and untreated as a result.

People with excess body weight are often judged negatively by others and are highly sensitized to the doctor or nurse doing so. Doctors and nurses should remember that people often know what they should do and are looking for support in how to achieve this.” Paul Aveyard, PhD, MRCP, FRCGP, FFPH, senior author, University of Oxford, UK

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