Doctors may simply be pessimistic about possible results
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/18/2013 -- The finding in a new study shows that despite the obesity epidemic, primary care physicians are failing to include counseling for weight-related effect as part of the appointments with their overweight patients.
The finding is true for all who are obese, but even more so for those with high blood pressure and diabetes, according to the study in the journal Medical Care.
Researchers analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey for the years 1995, 1996, 2007, and 2008. The survey gathered informational facts regarding provisions and outpatient medical services with the United States. The 2007-08 data were the most recent during the start of the study. All four years were chosen due to the survey structure being similar and thus better in comparison.
There are more than 145 million adult Americans who are classified as overweight or obese. Yet, despite the obvious epidemic, patients in 2007 and 2008 had 46% lower odds of receiving weight-based counseling, as the counseling occurred a mere 6.2% of the visits in the year. Simultaneously, the percentage of adults with weight problems increased from 52.1% in 1995 up to 63.3% in 2008.
“It is striking that the odds of weight loss counseling declined by 41%, with only 29.9 percent of obese patients receiving counseling in 2007-2008, given the substantial increases in the rates of overweight and obesity during that time,” says Jennifer Kraschnewski, assistant professor of medicine at Penn State.
High blood pressure sufferers were 46% less likely to receive counseling, while diabetes patients were 59% less likely. “People with these conditions stand the most to gain from the weight counseling,” Kraschnewski says.
“Unfortunately, other studies have shown that physicians do not conduct weight and weight-related counseling for the majority of their affected patients,” Kraschnewski says. Evidence shows that counseling can help adults lose weight and keep it off.
While there is no obvious reason for the drop, doctors could simply be pessimistic about patients making a change, and are often overworked and have little time for each patient.
“There are many additional competing demands in the outpatient care between study years, including an increase in chronic illnesses, a focus on quality improvement, and use of electronic health records,” Kraschnewski says. “Although visit duration has actually increased over the study time period, the number of items addressed during clinic visits has increased substantially more, suggesting less time is available to provide counseling.”
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