Presenting Weight Loss Treatment as Positive Opportunity Is Beneficial

Uptake of treatment and weight change greater when referral is presented as good news relative to neutral news
Presenting Weight Loss Treatment as Positive Opportunity Is Beneficial
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TUESDAY, Nov. 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with obesity seeing a general practitioner, presenting weight loss treatment as a positive opportunity is associated with increased uptake of treatment and more weight loss, according to a study published online Nov. 7 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Charlotte Albury, D.Phil., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the relationships between language used in the clinical visit and patient weight loss in a mixed-methods cohort study conducted at 38 primary care clinics in England. A total of 246 patients with obesity seen by 87 general practitioners randomly sampled from the intervention group of a clinical trial were included in the study; conversational analysis of recorded discussions regarding referral to a behavioral weight management program was conducted.

The researchers identified three interactional approaches based on clinicians' linguistic and paralinguistic practices: creating a sense of referrals as "good news" related to the opportunity of referral; "bad news" focusing on the harms of obesity; or neutral (62, 82, and 102, respectively). Good news was associated with increased agreement to attend the program and increased attendance (adjusted risk differences, 0.25 and 0.45, respectively), as well as weight change (adjusted difference, −3.60 kg), relative to neutral news. Comparing bad and neutral news, there was no evidence of differences in mean weight change; patient satisfaction did not differ across the three approaches.

"Patients have reported that clinicians' words and tone matter to them and can motivate or demotivate weight loss," the authors write.

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