Examining Patient Perspectives on Weight Management Support in the Primary Care Setting

Kate Bloom, Jaime Adler, Christy Bridges, Julia Bernstein, Christine Marie Rini, Adam O. Goldstein, Carol Ripley-Moffitt*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Obesity affects more than one-third of Americans and is a leading cause of preventable death. Integrating patient perspectives into obesity treatment can help primary care providers (PCPs) intervene more effectively. In this study, we describe patients’ experiences with PCPs concerning the diagnosis and treatment of obesity and offer suggestions for patient-centered care in weight management. We conducted four focus groups with patients of a university medical system-associated family practice who had a BMI ≥ 30. Interview questions addressed general weight management perceptions and preferences for weight management support in a primary care setting. Patients completed a brief demographic survey at the conclusion of the group. Four authors independently coded focus group notes to identify themes and determine saturation using qualitative thematic analysis. We resolved discrepancies by team discussion. Thirty primary care patients participated, of whom 23 were female and whose average age was 50. Twenty-four had attempted to lose weight in the past 12 months and had discussed management with their providers. Analyses identified four themes regarding weight management in a primary care setting: motivation and weight management, the provider–patient relationship, desire for concrete weight loss plans, and limitations of the primary care setting. Motivation was named as a weight management obstacle. Participants felt that PCPs need to be partners in weight management efforts and also recognized limitations of PCP time and expertise. They endorsed an integrated behavioral approach that includes physical activity and nutrition support. Improving PCP delivery of evidence-based treatment for obesity will lead to increased patient attempts to lose weight. Incorporating patients’ desires for concrete plans, ongoing support, and referral to integrated service (e.g., nutritionists, care managers, behavioral health providers) programs can increase patient engagement and success. The chronic disease care and Patient Centered Medical Home models offer guidance for ensuring sustainability of weight management services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-399
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Clinician–patient communication and relationship
  • Focus groups
  • Obesity
  • Primary care
  • Qualitative methods
  • Weight management
  • Weight reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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