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Annals of Internal MedicineRelationship Between Clinician Language and the Success of Behavioral Weight Loss Interventions

A Mixed-Methods Cohort Study

A recent study conducted in England examined the impact of language used by clinicians during consultations on patient weight loss. The study, which involved 246 patients with obesity and 87 general practitioners, identified three interactional approaches and investigated their association with patient weight loss and treatment uptake.

Study Design

  • The study was a mixed-methods cohort study conducted in 38 primary care clinics in England.
  • Participants included 246 patients with obesity who were seen by 87 general practitioners.
  • The study involved conversation analysis of recorded discussions between patients and clinicians regarding referral to a 12-week behavioral weight management program.

Key Findings

  • Three interactional approaches were identified based on clinicians’ linguistic and paralinguistic practices: presenting referrals as “good news,” “bad news,” or neutral.
  • Compared to the neutral approach, the “good news” approach was associated with increased agreement to attend the program, increased attendance, and weight change.
  • There was no evidence of differences in mean weight change comparing the “bad news” and neutral approaches, and no evidence of differences in patient satisfaction across all three approaches.

HCN Medical Memo
According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, of which over 650 million were obese.

More on Obesity/Weight Management

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