Did Someone Mention Weight?

Given its impact on health, body weight is something that is often discussed in encounters with health professionals.

The problem is that patients may not be listening or physicians may simply not be clear enough when mentioning the topic.

This at least is the result of a recent study by Allen Greiner and colleagues from the Department of Family Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Post-visit survey assessments of patients (456) and physicians (30) were assessed regarding whether or not they discussed weight, physical activity (PA), and diet immediately after office visits. Patient – Physician agreement was only 61%.

There was disagreement on one of the items (weight, PA, or diet) for 23% of office visits, and for 2 or more of the items for 16% of the visits.

Agreement was relatively greater for discussing weight than for discussing diet or physical activity. Physicians reported discussing weight issues more often than did patients.

The bottom line is that patients and physicians disagreed substantially about whether or not weight issues were discussed in a large number of primary care encounters in this study.

The authors suggest that physicians may be able to improve care for their obese patients by focusing discussions on specific details of diet and physical activity behaviors, and by clarifying that patients perceive weight-related information has been shared.

Whatever the case, don’t assume that just because you mention weight your patient is hearing you (and vice versa?).

Edmonton, Alberta