Obesity is a major chronic disease burden in Australia. Nevertheless, obesity management is often complex and frustrating for both doctors and patients. Obesity clinics are also usually overbooked with long waiting lists. There is little evidence on obesity management while patients are waiting to attend an obesity outpatient service.
This study aims to identify trends in weight change among Australian adults with obesity, and to explore their perceptions on self- and primary care management of obesity during the clinic waitlist period.
This study utilised a mixed methods approach. Quantitative data from surveys was used to inform subsequent semi-structured interviews. Qualitative data from the interviews was analysed using the framework approach (Chronic Care Model) and concepts from grounded theory.
45 participants were enrolled, where 7 attended follow-up interviews. Most patients gained weight (29%) or were unsure of any weight change (29%). 27% lost weight whereas weight was unchanged in 15% of participants. The major themes identified include self-management strategies, social support, patients’ expectations of primary care physicians (PCPs), the public hospital system, and food and the emotional state.
Improving obesity management during the clinic waitlist period could lead to better outcomes. Results from this study suggest that interventions should include elements of the Chronic Care Model, particularly self-management skills on healthy eating and emotional wellbeing. Patients and their families should also be linked to available community resources and support networks. PCPs should be encouraged to act as an additional support person for patients. There is also a need to develop a more effective communication interface to improve interactions between patients, PCPs, and the public hospital system.