Obesity Management and Prevention

Obesity Management and Prevention


My name’s Mark Harris. I’m the director of
COMPaRE Primary Health Care, which is the Centre for Obesity Management and Prevention
Research Excellence and Primary Health Care. We were tying to understand the problem obesity
in Australian community and in particular what the primary health care sector can do
to try and address the problem of obesity. So what we did was we divided our work into
three streams one of which was working with young mothers and infants and providing them
with, through practice nurses, electronic support. The second stream focussed on patients
with low health literacy who were obese and how they could be supported in general practice,
and the third stream was looking at the referral pathway for patients from general practice
to other services and the health economics of providing obesity care and general practice. Most of them are still going on. We found that it’s feasible and that it’s acceptable,
both to practice nurses and young mothers, to deliver support in that way particularly
using new technology like phone apps, and text messaging, and so on. In the second study
we found that health literacy is a significant problem in general practice with patients
who are over weight and that, again, clinicians can see the value of tackling that and where
the on going study is evaluating how effective their approach is, and in the implementation
stream, studied on referral behaviour, found that there was a different pattern of factors
that influenced GPs referral patterns to lifestyle programs versus surgery and surprising that
wasn’t related to the availability of services or resources. It was more to do with the clinicians
own beliefs about their effectiveness and their limited past experience. So that was
a surprising finding from that study. Well our findings have had quite a significant
impact on the services that have been involved in the study, so the medicare locals that
have been involved in Sydney, and Melbourne, and Adelaide, and the community health services,
have already started to change the way they go about things and two clear areas has been
in relation to using what’s called the five A’s, which is a framework for preventive care
that’s been used in the NHMRC obesity guideline, as an organising principal for the medicare
locals work and secondly a recognition of the importance of health literacy, or patients
with low health literacy, and dealing with that in a different way and dealing with weight
management in a different way for people with low health literacy.

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