Your primary care physician may be your first choice for assistance with most health-related issues, but according a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, primary care physicians agree they may not be the best health care professionals to give weight related counseling. Researchers examined primary care physician perspectives on the causes of and solutions to obesity care and identified differences in these perspectives by number of years since completion of medical school. They found that only 44 percent of primary care physicians reported success in helping obese patients lose weight and that primary care physicians identified nutritionists and dietitians as the most qualified providers to care for obese patients. The results are featured in the December 20, 2012 issue of BMJ Open.
"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 health care teams and practice resources," said Sara Bleich, PhD, lead author of the study and 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."