Objective: To determine the current practices in relation to weight management currently provided for overweight/obese patients attending different secondary care outpatient clinics.
Methods: Postal questionnaire sent to 100 consultant clinicians working in a range of specialist areas in three NHS Trust areas in Scotland, between January and March 2004.
Results: Overall response rate was 55%. Only 9% (five) of clinicians reported having a protocol in place for the management of patients who were overweight or obese. Lack of expertise and inaccessibility to expertise were cited frequently as reasons for having no protocol in place. Fifty-one per cent felt that weight management (including obesity treatment) should be undertaken by a specialist service either run by general practitioners (GPs), or by clinicians in a secondary care setting. Around a third of all those surveyed reported willingness to incorporate obesity management within their own routine specialty practice.
Conclusion: Clinicians acknowledged the adverse health effects of obesity within their specialist area, but felt unskilled and under-resourced to provide effective management. Effective prevention and management are required to challenge the obesity epidemic and will require the involvement of both primary and secondary care NHS settings. It is encouraging that a third of respondents felt prepared to incorporate obesity and weight management within their routine specialist practice.