Obesity management in primary care: assessment of readiness to change among 284 family practice patients

J Am Board Fam Pract. May-Jun 2000;13(3):164-71. doi: 10.3122/15572625-13-3-164.


Background: Most adults in primary care are overweight or obese; two thirds of patients with weight problems have other obesity-related conditions. The study objective was to explore the feasibility of a primary care obesity intervention based on the transtheoretical model (TM) of behavior change and principles of chronic disease (CD) care.

Methods: A prospective study of the initial version of the TM-CD intervention with obese family practice patients (n = 284) yielded cross-sectional data on baseline stage of change for six target behaviors: dietary fat, portion control, vegetable intake, fruit intake, usual physical activity, and planned exercise. The sample consisted of obese patients scheduled for an office visit during times when recruitment and informed consent did not conflict with acute care.

Results: Obese patients volunteering for a TM-CD program are in different stages of change for six target behaviors. Preparation was the most frequently reported stage for increased exercise (49%) or activity (34%), decreased dietary fat consumption (44%), and increased portion control (51%). Patients in a particular stage for one behavior were distributed across all five stages for another behavior. Stage of change for five target behaviors was associated with body mass index or waist girth (P < .05) in a manner consistent with stage-of-change theory.

Conclusions: Using the transtheoretical model of behavior change will allow physicians to recognize when obese patients are receptive to specific behavioral interventions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Behavior Therapy / methods
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Decision Making*
  • Family Practice*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Prospective Studies