Most health care providers lack knowledge and understanding of recommended obesity treatments, such as behavioral counseling and pharmacotherapy, recent research at the Washington University finds.
The research team conducted a web-based survey of a nationally representative sample of 1506 internists, family practitioners, obstetricians/gynecologists, and nurse practitioners to determine their understanding of obesity treatment guidelines.
Health care providers cite lack of time, lack of reimbursement, and lack of knowledge as major barriers to treating patients with obesity.
The Obesity Society Spokesperson Ken Fujioka, MD, FTOS, Director of the Center for Weight Management and Director of the Nutrition and Metabolic Research Center at Scripps Clinic, said, "This is a big-time paper that clearly demonstrates the lack of basic knowledge about obesity in the health care community. Admittedly, we have always known this, but this is clear evidence that we have a major problem because obesity is the most common disease seen in primary care." These findings strongly suggest that additional obesity training is needed.
Additionally, in an accompanying editorial published in Obesity, Robert Kushner, MD, FTOS, examines the impact of this study. "The study suggests that more obesity education is needed among primary health care providers that focuses on knowledge along with enhanced competencies in patient care management, communication, and behavior change," said Dr. Kushner, Past President of The Obesity Society, Professor of Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Lifestyle Medicine at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, IL. Overall, more obesity education and training are needed among health care professionals.