Submission Type

Original Research


BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess a nationally representative sample of academic family physicians to determine whether personal physician characteristics are associated with attitudes towards and care of overweight and/or obese patients.

METHODS: Questions pertaining to physician’s interactions with overweight and obese patients was administered as the 2012 Council of Academic Family Medicine Educational Research Alliance (CERA) survey to academic family physicians. We analyzed self-reported demographic responses physicians gave with the main outcome the association between self-reported likelihood of engaging in weight loss discussions with overweight or obese patients and physicians’ personal characteristics (gender and physician BMI).

RESULTS: 36% of the 1099 physicians surveyed were overweight and 14% were obese (Table 1). We found no differences in the self-reported likelihood of discussing weight loss strategies with either their overweight patients or obese patients by physician BMI category. 77% female vs. 64% male physicians reported being very/extremely likely to discuss weight loss with their obese patients at their most recent visit (p=0.002). Female physicians reported discussing weight loss strategies often or at every visit more than males (females 79%, males 69%; p=0.02). Finally, female physicians self-reported more minutes spent counseling overweight and obese patients (p = 0.0001) (Table 3).

CONCLUSION: Female family medicine physicians are more likely than male counterparts to discuss weight loss strategies with obese patients and they report spending more time discussing weight loss strategies with their patients. However, self-reported physician BMI was not associated with these behaviors.



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