Physician communication techniques and weight loss in adults: Project CHAT

TitlePhysician communication techniques and weight loss in adults: Project CHAT
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsPollak, KI, Alexander, SC, Coffman, CJ, Tulsky, JA, Lyna, P, Dolor, RJ, James, IE, Brouwer, RNJ, Manusov, JRE, Østbye, T
JournalAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine
PublisherElsevier Science
Place PublishedNetherlands
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number0749-3797
Accession Number2010-19047-006. First Author & Affiliation: Pollak, Kathryn I.
Keywordsadults, Communicating Health–Analyzing Talk project, communication techniques, motivational interviewing, Physicians, Psychotherapeutic Processes, Weight Loss

Background: Physicians are encouraged to counsel overweight and obese patients to lose weight. Purpose: It was examined whether discussing weight and use of motivational interviewing techniques (e.g., collaborating, reflective listening) while discussing weight predicted weight loss 3 months after the encounter. Methods: Forty primary care physicians and 461 of their overweight or obese patient visits were audio recorded between December 2006 and June 2008. Patient actual weight at the encounter and 3 months after the encounter (n = 426); whether weight was discussed; physicians' use of motivational interviewing techniques; and patient, physician, and visit covariates (e.g., race, age, specialty) were assessed. This was an observational study and data were analyzed in April 2009. Results: No differences in weight loss were found between patients whose physicians discussed weight or did not. Patients whose physicians used motivational interviewing–consistent techniques during weight-related discussions lost weight 3 months post-encounter; those whose physician used motivational interviewing–inconsistent techniques gained or maintained weight. The estimated difference in weight change between patients whose physician had a higher global motivational interviewing–Spirit score (e.g., collaborated with patient) and those whose physician had a lower score was 1.6 kg (95% CI = -2.9, -0.3, p = 0.02). The same was true for patients whose physician used reflective statements: 0.9 kg (95% CI = -1.8, −0.1, p = 0.03). Similarly, patients whose physicians expressed only motivational interviewing–consistent behaviors had a difference in weight change of 1.1 kg (95% CI = -2.3, 0.1, p = 0.07) compared to those whose physician expressed only motivational interviewing–inconsistent behaviors (e.g., judging, confronting). Conclusions: In this observational study, use of motivational interviewing techniques during weight loss discussions predicted patient weight loss. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved) (journal abstract)

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