Weight Communication: How Do Health Professionals Communicate about Weight with Their Patients in Primary Care Settings? Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • This study aimed to investigate how health professionals (HPs) communicate about weight with their patients. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 33 health professionals (7 family physicians, 13 nurse practitioners, and 13 dietitians) working in multidisciplinary healthcare settings in Canada. Thematic analysis revealed four main approaches used by HPs to communicate about weight: 1) Analyzing patient perspectives, 2) focusing on overall health rather than weight, 3) directly addressing the topic, and 4) avoiding the topic. The approach chosen was influenced by HPs' outlook on obesity; for example, those who believed obesity to be a chronic disease did not hesitate to communicate about weight. However, some HPs who reported having obesity mentioned avoiding the topic of weight with their patients and emphasized the importance of establishing a trusting relationship with patients before addressing the topic. The approach chosen by HPs also seemed to be influenced by patient receptiveness, level of readiness, and motivation. Weight communication can be sensitive and the approach used to begin the topic of weight may differ based on patient- and HP factors. Future clinical practice guidelines may benefit from shifting toward communicating about modifiable risk factors rather than weight.

authors

  • Aboueid, Stephanie
  • Ahmed, Rukhsana
  • Jasinska, Monika
  • Pouliot, Catherine
  • Hermosura, Billie Jane
  • Bourgeault, Ivy
  • Giroux, Isabelle

publication date

  • December 14, 2020