Attitudes of Family Physicians towards Obesity Management

DOI: 10.3238/zfa.2020.0159-0165

german translation / full article

Julian Wangler, Michael Jansky

Keywords: family physician management obesity overweight therapy

BackgroundIn face of increasing prevalence, obesity and its associated diseases represent a major health challenge. Despite their favorable position, family physicians are being criticized for their reluctance and lack of consistency with regard to the therapeutic management of obesity patients. So far, there are too few recent and reliable studies in German primary care that explore the attitudes of family physicians on the subject.MethodsThe present study is based on 18 qualitative interviews with family physicians in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse which were conducted between April and July 2019. In the course of a type formation, various attitudes and behavior patterns towards care of obese patients were identified, in particular with regard to the acceptance of care, the therapeutic approach and perceived challenges.ResultsFour types were extracted whose roles, self-understanding and treatment of obese patients differ from each other (the frustrated [n = 6 interviewees]; the trainers [n = 4]; the social [n = 4]; the preventives [n = 4]). While the first type shows a negative and sometimes stereotypical attitude towards obesity management, which is reflected in a lack of willingness to provide care, the other types show an active and constructive approach. Depending on the cluster, there are different therapeutic focuses (movement and nutritional support, psychosocial support, prevention).ConclusionsIt makes sense to strengthen the awareness of family physicians regarding the background of obesity and a motivating, behavior-oriented discussion with patients. A diagnosis of obesity should be combined with specific recommendations for action (diet, exercise). It would also be useful to have a focused diet and exercise consultation in the family doctor’s office. Family physicians should be encouraged to act as mediators by involving patients in a network of other services as needed. The development of structured obesity management programs that take into account the reality of family medicine should be pushed forward.Keywordsobesity; overweight; family physician; therapy; management

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