General practitioners (GPs) have a crucial role to play in engaging patients in discussions about overweight and obesity. However, such discussions are currently uncommon. The aim of this study was to examine how GPs in rural areas talk about overweight and obesity with their patients, specifically to identify key barriers to effective conversations.
This study used a qualitative methodology. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with GPs (n = 7) and patients (n = 7) across two rural areas.
Key barriers to effective conversations between GPs and patients about overweight and/or obesity include: uncertainty about appropriate language; lack of time; concerns about compromising mutual trust and rapport; concerns about patient readiness; concerns about patients’ mental health and how this may be impacted by discussing a potentially upsetting and stigmatising topic; and lack of effective and individualised treatment and/or referral options.
The findings suggest that responses to overweight and obesity need to be localised and tailored. Structural-level change is required to enable better responses to overweight and obesity, including multidisciplinary team approaches