Direct observation of weight-related communication in primary care: a systematic review.

CT McHale, AH Laidlaw, Joanne E Cecil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Primary care is ideally placed to play an effective role in patient weight management; however, patient weight is seldom discussed in this context. A synthesis of studies that directly observe weight discussion in primary care is required to more comprehensively understand and improve primary care weight-related communication.

Objective: To systematically identify and examine primary care observational research that investigates weight-related communication and its relationship to patient weight outcomes.

Methods: A systematic review of literature published up to August 2015, using seven electronic databases (including MEDLINE, Scopus and PsycINFO), was conducted using search terms such as overweight, obese and/or doctor-patient communication.

Results: Twenty papers were included in the final review. Communication analysis focused predominantly on 'practitioner' use of specific patient-centred communication. Practitioner use of motivational interviewing was associated with improved patient weight-related outcomes, including patient weight loss and increased patient readiness to lose weight; however, few studies measured patient weight-related outcomes.

Conclusion: Studies directly observing weight-related communication in primary care are scarce and limited by a lack of focus on patient communication and patient weight-related outcomes. Future research should measure practitioner and patient communications during weight discussion and their impact on patient weight-related outcomes. This knowledge may inform the development of a communication intervention to assist practitioners to more effectively discuss weight with their overweight and/or obese patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-345
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016

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