Objective: To explore patients' views of the role of general practitioners in weight management.
Design: Waiting-room questionnaire survey, including measurement of height, weight and waist circumference, May-August 2005.
Participants and setting: 227 patients from five general practices located in metropolitan and rural New South Wales.
Main outcome measures: Patients' views on: the role of GPs in weight management; the usefulness of weight-loss strategies; and the likelihood of following the GP's advice about weight loss.
Results: Most patients (78%) felt that GPs had a role in weight management, but only 46% thought that GPs would be able to spend enough time to provide effective weight loss advice. Over 80% of patients perceived advice on healthy eating and physical activity to be useful or very useful, and were likely to follow weight-loss recommendations; 78% were in favour of regular review. Patients indicated they would be less likely to see a dietitian or to attend information sessions, and unlikely to take weight-loss medication. Views of overweight and obese patients were generally similar to those of normal weight patients, but there were significant differences in perceptions of the usefulness of information on weight and weight-related medical conditions, as well as willingness to change lifestyle, possibly reflecting resistance to change among obese or overweight patients.
Conclusion: These findings have implications for the design of primary care interventions for managing obesity.