Patients and Primary Care Physicians Aren’t Having Candid Conversations about Obesity and Weight-loss Surgery

Posted by: admin on: September 28, 2011

Do misperceptions and fear of embarrassment inhibit discussion of treatment options that would benefit many patients with obesity?

  • Significant barriers are keeping adults affected by obesity and physicians from talking frankly about bariatric, or weight loss, surgery.
  • The survey found that while four in five adults affected by obesity had discussed weight with their health care provider only one in 10 who meet the National Institutes of Health guidelines for bariatric surgery have had their doctor recommend it.
  • Results indicate that the majority of patients (86%) who had surgery wish they’d had it sooner, and half of physicians echo this sentiment, wishing they had suggested it sooner to some of their patients.
  • Healthcare professionals should be having detailed discussions with people suffering from obesity about all their treatment options, including weight-loss surgery
  • The survey results indicate that doctors are not speaking to patients about their weight and the effects it can have on their health.
  • Informed patients can proactively manage their health and improve their quality of life.
  • According to the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and other national medical associations, bariatric surgery is the most effective therapy available for morbid obesity and can result in improvement or complete resolution of obesity comorbidities.
  • The health care professionals surveyed tend to underestimate patients’ willingness to discuss their weight and their receptiveness to discuss treatment options, such as bariatric surgery.
  • Six in 10 physicians surveyed believe most individuals affected by obesity are too embarrassed to discuss their weight with a health care professional.
  • However almost 3 in 4 patients who have had weight-loss surgery and more than 4 in 5 adults who haven’t, reported they have not been too embarrassed, suggesting the conversation would be welcomed.
  • Further, of those bariatric surgery patients whose health care provider suggested surgery, 9 in 10 (92%) felt positive feelings (i.e. excited, relieved, and happy) as a result of their suggestion.
  • The top perceived drawback of bariatric surgery for individuals affected by obesity is the misplaced fear that it is dangerous (59%).
  • Physicians share this concern, with eight of 10 reporting fear of surgery complications as one of the biggest barriers.
  • It is important to stress that while there are risks involved – as with any surgical procedure – bariatric surgery is considered a safe option
  • Majority of patients who have undergone weight loss surgery believe that their lives have changed for the better, evidenced by the fact that three-quarters cite excellent or good health.

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