Exploring weight loss services in primary care and staff views on using a web-based programme

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Authors: Ware, L.J., Williams, S., Bradbury, K., Brant, C., Little, P., Hobbs, F.D.R. and Yardley, L.

Journal: Informatics In Primary Care

Volume: 20

Issue: 4

Pages: 283-288

Background. Demand is increasing for primary care to deliver effective weight management services to patients, but research suggests staff feel inadequately resourced for such a role. Supporting service delivery with a free and effective web-based weight management programme could maximize primary care resource and provide cost effective support for patients. However, integration of e-health into primary care may face challenges.

Objectives. To explore primary care staff experiences of delivering weight management services and their perceptions of a web-based weight management programme to aid service delivery.

Methods. Focus groups were conducted with primary care physicians, nurses and healthcare assistants (n=36) involved in delivering weight loss services. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis.

Results. Participants thought that primary care should be involved in delivering weight management, especially when weight was aggravating health problems. However, they felt under-resourced to deliver these services and unsure as to the effectiveness of their input, as routine services were not evaluated. Beliefs that current services were ineffective resulted in staff reluctance to allocate more resource. Participants were hopeful that supplementing practice with a web-based weight management programme would enhance patient services and promote service evaluation.

Conclusions. While primary care staff felt they should deliver weight loss services, low levels of faith in the efficacy of current treatments resulted in provision of under-resourced and “ad hoc” services. Integration of a web-based weight loss programme that promotes service evaluation and provides a cost-effective option for supporting patients may encourage practices to invest more in weight management services.

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