Primary care providers' communication with patients during weight counseling: A focus group study.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Patient education and counseling (2012)


OBJECTIVE: Primary care providers (PCPs) are encouraged to counsel their obese patients about weight loss. We used focus groups to explore how PCPs communicate with patients about weight management. METHODS: During the summer of 2010, we conducted five focus groups of community-based PCPs who had patients enrolled in a practice-based, randomized controlled weight loss trial in Maryland. Focus groups were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Two investigators independently coded transcripts for thematic content using editing style analysis. RESULTS: Twenty-six PCPs from six different practices participated. Mean years in practice were 16.4 (SD 11.7) and 77% practiced internal medicine. We identified three communication-based themes about weight loss counseling: (1) motivating patients to lose weight, (2) partnering with the patient to achieve weight loss, and (3) handling challenges that arise during weight counseling. CONCLUSION: PCPs use a variety of strategies to communicate with their patients about weight loss. Some PCPs already use patient-centered approaches to communicate with their patients about weight loss, suggesting that future weight counseling interventions should be tailored to build upon this strength. PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS: PCPs' weight loss counseling may be improved by using techniques with demonstrated behavior change effectiveness such as the 5A's or motivational interviewing.