Patient and physician characteristics associated with the provision of weight loss counseling in primary care

Academic Article


  • Background: A variety of physician and patient characteristics may influence whether weight loss counseling occurs in primary care encounters. Objectives: This study utilized a cross-sectional survey of primary care patients, which examined patient characteristics, physician characteristics, and characteristics of the physician-patient relationship associated with weight loss counseling and recommendations provided by physicians. Participants: (N = 143, mean age = 46.8 years, mean BMI = 36.9 kg/m2, 65% Caucasian) were overweight and obese primary care patients participating in a managed care weight loss program. Measures: Participants completed self-report surveys in the clinic prior to the initial weight loss session. Surveys included items assessing demographic/background characteristics, weight, height, and a health care questionnaire evaluating whether their physician had recommended weight loss, the frequency of their physicians' weight loss counseling, and whether their physician had referred them for obesity treatment. Results: Patient BMI and physician sex were most consistently associated with physicians' weight loss counseling practices. Patients seen by female physicians were more likely to be told that they should lose weight, received more frequent obesity counseling, and were more likely to have been referred for obesity treatment by their physician. Length and frequency of physician-patient contacts were unrelated to the likelihood of counseling. Conclusions: These findings add to previous evidence suggesting possible differences in the weight loss counseling practices of male and female physicians, although further research is needed to understand this potential difference between physicians. © 2012 Asian Oceanian Association for the Study of Obesity.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Dutton GR; Herman KG; Tan F; Goble M; Dancer-Brown M; Van Vessem N; Ard JD
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 2