To deliver effective care, healthcare systems should understand patients’ preferences for weight management across a spectrum of needs. Our objective was to describe patients’ perceptions of what helps or hinders weight loss and maintenance.
Semistructured interviews were conducted with patients who accessed weight management services at a large integrated health system in 2018. The interview guide was developed and iteratively refined through a literature search and by consulting experts. Questions included the respondent’s weight history, interactions with the health system, and current health status. The analysis used a grounded theory approach, and each transcript was double-coded in 2019. Codes were sorted into themes. All discrepancies were resolved through team discussion.
Fifteen patients were interviewed. The majority of respondents (87%) reported multiple weight loss attempts. Three themes were identified. First, advice should be matched to a patient’s knowledge and prior experience (eg, using bariatric deck cards). As patients progressed, clinician advice also needed to advance (eg, explaining how to expand food options instead of defining a healthy diet). Second, respondents had a variety of motivating factors, and understanding where motivation is generated from can inform how to design a weight management approach. Third, patients need continual and long-term advice. Some respondents feared becoming ineligible for services if their weight dropped too much.
Health systems can support patients by developing processes for identifying the extent of a patient’s knowledge and giving personalized advice based on the patient’s preferences and experiences. Reassessing needs at defined intervals may help patients attain and sustain their goals.
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