Tags: doctor | obesity | training

Physicians Found Lacking in Obesity Training

Thursday, 27 December 2012 10:39 AM

Seventy-two million Americans — one in three adults — are obese, costing the U.S. healthcare system more than $147 billion a year in obesity-related medical expenditures, federal officials estimate. Yet more than half the nation’s doctors say they are not trained well enough in medical school, or afterward, to provide weight-related counseling to their patients.
That’s the chief finding of a new survey by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who found only 44 percent of primary care physicians reported success in helping obese patients shed pounds.
The results, featured in British Medical Journal BMJ Open, also found most physicians believe nutritionists and dietitians — not doctors — are the most qualified providers to care for patients who struggle with weight issues that can lead to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other significant health problems.
"In order to begin improving obesity care, medical education should focus on enhancing those obesity-related skills primary care physicians feel most qualified to deliver, as well as changing the composition of healthcare teams and practice resources," said lead researcher Sara Bleich, an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management.
"With respect to training and practice-based changes, primary care physicians would like to see implemented, 93 percent reported that including body mass index [BMI] as a fifth vital sign would be helpful; 89 percent reported that including diet and exercise tips in patients' charts would be helpful; 85 percent reported that having scales that calculate BMI would be helpful and 69 percent reported that adding BMI to patients' charts would be helpful."
For the study, Bleich and colleagues conducted a national survey of 500 general practitioners, family doctors, and general internists in 2011. Researchers evaluated physicians’ perspectives on the causes of obesity, competence in treating obese patients, perspectives on the health professional most qualified to help obese patients lose or maintain weight, and solutions for improving obesity care.
They found doctors overwhelmingly advocate more training, such as nutrition counseling, to help improve their care for obese patients. Those in practice fewer than 20 years were more likely to identify lack of information about good eating habits and healthy food as important causes of obesity than older doctors.
Bleich said the findings suggest that "obesity-related medical education has changed little over time. Physicians who completed medical school more recently reported feeling more successful helping obese patients lose weight. However, no matter when they completed medical school they overwhelmingly supported additional training and practice-based changes to help them improve their obesity care."

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More than half the nation’s doctors say they are not trained to provide weight-related counseling.
Thursday, 27 December 2012 10:39 AM
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