The effect of an automated clinical reminder on weight loss in primary care

Jason S. O'Grady, Tom D. Thacher, Rajeev Chaudhry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Overweight and obese individuals have increased health risks. Clinical reminders positively affect health outcomes in diabetes and osteoporosis, but the effect of automated prompts on weight loss in obesity has not been studied. Our objective was to determine whether an automatic prompt for the clinician to recommend lifestyle changes to patients with a body mass index (BMI) > 25 kg/m2 led to greater weight loss over a 3-to 6-month interval compared with the absence of a clinical reminder. Methods: We conducted a retrospective analysis of electronic medical records of obese adult patients with a BMI > 25 kg/m2 who were seen in 2009 and 2010, before and after implementation of an automated printed clinical reminder, respectively. We evaluated 1600 patients in each of the control and intervention groups. The primary outcome was the mean change in BMI between the control and intervention groups. Multiple linear regression was used to assess the effect of the clinical reminder on the change in BMI while adjusting for baseline BMI and potential confounding factors. Results: The reduction in BMI (mean ± standard deviation) in the group with the clinical reminder (-0.084 ± 1.56 kg/m2) was not significantly greater than the control group (-0.053 ± 1.49 kg/m2; P = .56). A regression model incorporating the clinical reminder, age, baseline BMI, obesity diagnosis, diabetes, and hyperlipidemia found that baseline BMI (P < .001), obesity diagnosis (P < .001), age (P = .001), and hyperlipidemia diagnosis (P = .02) were significant predictors of weight loss, but the clinical reminder was not (P = .78). There was a significant interaction between the clinical reminder and baseline BMI (P = .005), as the prompt increased weight loss more in those with lower baseline BMI. Conclusion: Automated clinical reminders alone do not improve weight loss in overweight and obese patients. Physician diagnoses of obesity or hyperlipidemia were associated with weight loss, suggesting that formally noting these diagnoses contributes to successful weight loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)745-750
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2013


  • Electronic medical records
  • Obesity
  • Practice management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Family Practice


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