Weighed in the balance and not listening

2 minute read

You’re not wrong, your patients really are ignoring you.

Do you sometimes get the feeling your patient is hearing what you are saying but are not listening to your advice?

In particular, do your overweight patients appear to be particularly reluctant to accept your wisdom regarding the need for weight loss and lifestyle changes?  

Chances are your gut feelings are right on this, at least according to research recently published in the journal Family Practice.

And with the WHO estimating that obesity rates tripled between the years 1975 and 2016, that GP-patient disconnect is rather concerning.

There’s been previous research that has highlighted the fact that patients and doctors often had dissimilar attitudes about what constitutes a healthy weight, but this French study takes a deep dive into quantifying the gap between what is being said and what is being heard. 

The researchers began by using questionnaires to grill 27 GPs and 585 patients from three regions in France and gather both the doctors’ and patients’ perceptions of the information and advice given at the end of their consultation and the quality of the relationship.

They then analysed the differences in answers given by doctors and their patients to define where there was disagreement on what had actually been said.

Agreement between patients and doctors was weak (20 to 40% agreement) or moderate (40 to 60% agreement) for most of the questions, including questions about actions, information, advice, and patient’s health status discussed during the appointment. And agreement was very weak (less than 20% agreement) for questions about the perceived quality of the patient-doctor relationship.

What’s more, the researchers also found the more overweight the patient was, the more pronounced that disagreement was, particularly when the disagreement related to the advice given on weight and lifestyle issues.

Sadly, however, the research didn’t offer much in way of guidance on how to address this issue, other than to raise awareness of just how wide the disparity could be.

“These disagreements could degrade the quality of patient-physician relationship,” the study authors said. “Our study provides an opportunity for GPs to reflect on how they communicate with overweight and obese patients, particularly with regard to lifestyle and weight-related advice and interventions taking into account the patient’s representations.”

Which is interesting, but not particularly helpful …

If you see something that might actually be useful, penny@medicalrepublic.com.au is all ears.

End of content

No more pages to load

Log In Register ×