Crucial conversations about weight management with healthcare providers: Patients’ perspectives and experiences

Afton M. Koball, Paul S. Mueller, Julia Craner, Matthew M. Clark, Sanjeev Nanda, Esayas B. Kebede, Karen B. Grothe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Purpose To elicit patient experiences of weight management discussions with providers and provide recommendations for future weight-related discussions. Methods 1000 patients who recently saw their provider for non-weight specific appointments were mailed measures of demographics, self-reported height and weight, activity level, adherence, perceptions of and recommendations for weight-related discussions, and internalized weight bias. This study was primarily descriptive and utilized a mixed method design including collection of quantitative and qualitative data. Results 242 patients responded (24 % response rate); 32.4 % overweight (N = 72), 41.9 % obese (N = 93). 47 % of overweight and 71 % of obese patients recalled that their provider discussed weight; 92 % were motivated to follow recommendations and 89 % felt confident doing so. Most patients (75 %) would like their provider to be ‘‘very direct/straightforward’’ when discussing weight, and 52 % would be ‘‘not at all offended’’ if they were diagnosed as ‘‘overweight/obese.’’ Most patients (63 %) reported being ‘‘extremely comfortable’’ discussing weight with providers. Patients with higher BMI had higher levels of internalized weight bias (p <.001) and wanted their provider to ‘‘discuss weight sensitively’’ (p <.05). Conclusion This study suggests that patients have important preferences that providers should be mindful of when discussing weight. While these discussions can be challenging, most patients report that they would be comfortable having these conversations directly and most would have enhanced motivation and confidence following these conversations. Communicating about weight is needed and desired by patients; doing so sensitively with those at higher weight is essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)87-94
Number of pages8
JournalEating and Weight Disorders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Communication
  • Obesity
  • Weight management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'Crucial conversations about weight management with healthcare providers: Patients’ perspectives and experiences'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this