Health  Vol.5 No.8 C , August 2013
Obesity communication among patients by health professionals: Findings from the Weight Care Project
Abstract: Obesity is on the increase worldwide and is a major global public health problem. In an increasingly obesogenic environment, it’s important that health professionals are equipped to identify and address obesity issues within their clinical practice. As part of the Weight Care Project, the aim of this study was to explore the obesity-related communication issues for primary care and community-based health professionals. The study design was a quantitative survey, which was completed by 382 primary care and community-based health professionals across Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland working with adults and children. Key findings included that the majority of the health professionals (86%) recognized having a role in giving obesity advice, acknowledged that in clinical practice communication of obesity messages is both complex and challenging (81%), and reported difficulty in sensitively addressing obesity issues (27%). The health professionals surveyed stated that they communicate obesity messages to their patients using a range of different methods, mainly verbally to individuals, leaflets and factsheets. Numerous benefits of communicating obesity messages were reported; the main one was interacting with patients to build trust. Identified barriers to commu

nication were: limited time in patient consultations, restricted access to appropriate information, and not sure where to access appropriate resources. Communication needed be reported by the health professionals included provision of greater resources, more information on obesity management and prevention, followed by health communication training, and clear and consistent messages. Significant differences were observed, including significantly much younger health professionals considered their role to provide obesity advice (P = 0.025). It is clear from this study that health professionals view as important the need to be given information on “what” and “how” to communicate with their patients on obesity. This study highlights that health professionals need continued support to enable them to effectively address weight-related issues in a sensitive manner that is acceptable to the patient.

Cite this paper: Moorhead, S. , Coates, V. , Gallagher, A. , Nolan, G. , Murphy, K. and Hazlett, D. (2013) Obesity communication among patients by health professionals: Findings from the Weight Care Project. Health, 5, 100-109. doi: 10.4236/health.2013.58A3015.

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