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Keywords:

  • empirical research report;
  • obesity;
  • patient acceptability;
  • primary care;
  • primary health care;
  • specialist health visitor;
  • weight management

Abstract

Title. Specialist health visitor-led weight management intervention in primary care: exploratory evaluation

Aim.  This paper is a report of an exploratory study to evaluate the effectiveness and acceptability of a specialist health visitor-led weight management clinic in primary care.

Background.  Tackling obesity is a global health priority. Whilst there is evidence to support a role for primary healthcare professionals in its management, provision in England varies widely. Using designated ‘obesity specialists’ is an approach warranting further investigation.

Method.  In 2003–2004, patients with a body mass index of 30 or more received a specialist health visitor-led intervention based on the Jan Felgens ‘I2E2’ model. Clinical outcome data and self-reported dietary consumption data were collected at weeks 1, 13, 27 and 52. Quantitative and qualitative data on patient acceptability of the clinic were collected at week 26.

Findings.  Eighty-nine patients attended the clinic. Mean body weight and body mass index and systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased over time by statistically significant amounts. There was a non-significant decrease in fasting blood sugar over time, but approximately one in 10 patients with undiagnosed diabetes were identified. No statistically significant change was evident for cholesterol levels. Mean self-reported weekly consumption of cakes, desserts and snacks decreased and that of fruit and vegetables increased, each by statistically significant amounts. Participants found the clinic highly acceptable and identified the specialist health visitor as fundamental to its success.

Conclusion.  A partnership approach to weight management through which patients are empowered to make sustainable lifestyle changes now needs to be tested in a multi-centre randomized controlled trial.