Barriers and enablers to managing obesity in general practice: a practical approach for use in implementation activities

Qual Prim Care. 2012;20(2):93-103.


Background: In 2006, the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published guidelines for the prevention and management of overweight and obesity. To tailor the implementation of guidelines, information is needed about the prevailing barriers and enablers, and practical methods for identifying barriers and enablers.

Aim: To uncover and describe barriers and enablers to implementing NICE's recommendations on the management of obesity in adults in general practice, using practical qualitative methods.

Methods: A qualitative study involving semistructured interviews with seven general practitioners, seven practice nurses and nine overweight or obese patients, exploring their views and experiences on the implementation of NICE guidelines on obesity. The interviews were undertaken and analysed by a health professional with support of a health service researcher; they were recorded and transcribed verbatim and analysed using a thematic framework approach. The analysis described the reported barriers and enablers.

Results: Barriers included: stigma, cost of private sector services, previous patient experience, practitioners not wanting to take responsibility for obesity management, lack of consistency in care, limited practitioner skills, perceived lack of NHS services and constraints imposed by commissioners. Trust between practitioners and patients, practitioners with the skills and confidence to raise the issue of obesity, practice-based procedures and weight management services being available were perceived as enablers to implementation.

Conclusion: This pragmatic study found that there are many barriers to the implementation of NICE guidance on obesity, involving patients, practitioners and support services for primary care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Advisory Committees
  • Female
  • General Practice*
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / standards*
  • United Kingdom