The relationship between doctors' and nurses' own weight status and their weight management practices: a systematic review


IJ Norman, King's College London, Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, James Clerk Maxwell Building, 57 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8WA, UK.


It has been established that health professionals' smoking and physical activity influence their related health-promoting behaviours, but it is unclear whether health professionals' weight status also influences their related professional practices. A systematic review was conducted to understand the relationship between personal weight status and weight management practices. Nine eligible studies were identified from a search of the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and Chinese databases. All included studies were cross-sectional surveys employing self-reported questionnaires. Weight management practice variables studied were classified under six practice indicators, developed from weight management guidelines. Syntheses of the findings from the selected studies suggest that: normal weight doctors and nurses were more likely than those who were overweight to use strategies to prevent obesity in-patients, and, also, provide overweight or obese patients with general advice to achieve weight loss. Doctors' and nurses' own weight status was not found to be significantly related to their referral and assessment of overweight or obese patients, and associations with their relevant knowledge/skills and specific treatment behaviours were inconsistent. Additionally, in female, primary care providers, relevant knowledge and training, self-efficacy and a clear professional identity emerged as positive predictors of weight management practices. This review's findings will need to be confirmed by prospective theoretically driven studies, which employ objective measures of weight status and weight management practices and involve multivariate analyses to identify the relative contribution of weight status to weight management.