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Keywords:

  • continuing care;
  • self-help;
  • behavior therapy;
  • group support;
  • perceived effectiveness

Abstract

Objective: Obesity is increasingly considered a chronic disease requiring continuing care, but professional long-term treatment for most patients is not available. This study examined treatment recipients’ perception of the effectiveness of different components of a group self-help, continuing-care treatment program for obesity.

Research Methods and Procedures: Members (n = 120) and volunteer leaders (n = 66) of a self-help, continuing-care treatment program of previously demonstrated effectiveness (mean treatment duration, 40.6 months; mean weight lost, 14.1 kg) rated how helpful and effective they found the various therapeutic strategies used by this program. The strategies examined were continuing care, group support, behavior therapy, motivational enhancement strategies involving positive reinforcement, and motivational enhancement strategies involving punishment.

Results: The single most highly valued aspect of treatment was the provision of continuing care, followed by group support. Greater success at achieving one's goal weight was associated with perceptions of greater effectiveness of the program's strategies overall (r = 0.219, p < 0.005), of continuing care (r = 0.225, p < 0.005), and of positive reinforcement strategies (r = 0.223, p < 0.01). Participants who had successfully attained their goal weight perceived behavior therapy strategies as more effective than did participants who had not reached their goal weight [t (170) = 2.93, p < 0.005].

Discussion: The high ratings given to continuing care and group support strategies indicate the acceptability of supportive self-help treatment for obesity administered over the long term. The findings suggest that continuing care and group support should be made available to participants in the self-help treatment of obesity.