Weight-Loss Counseling Most Prevalent Between Male Physicians and Obese Men

According to investigators reporting in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine 

San Diego, CA, 5 May, 2011 – A study published in the June 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine examined the association between patient–physician gender concordance and weight-related counseling in obese individuals. Investigators from the University of Pennsylvania and Johns Hopkins University found that obese male patients seeing male physicians had higher odds of receiving weight-related counseling than obese women seeing a female physician.

Commenting on the study, Octavia Pickett-Blakely, MD, MHS, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, observed that “Perhaps societal norms linking physical fitness to masculinity leads male physicians to view obese men as more receptive to weight-related counseling and contributes to open dialogue about weight in male gender-concordant relationships. The findings of this study should heighten clinicians' awareness of how the personal attributes of physicians and patients may influence obesity care. Future studies should objectively measure weight-related communication (e.g., direct observation, audio tapes) in gender-concordant and gender-discordant patient–physician encounters, and explore the potential role of physicians’ explicit and implicit attitudes regarding obesity and gender, in weight-related counseling for obese patients."

The study revealed that male patients had about a 60% higher chance of receiving diet/nutrition advice and about a 76% higher chance of getting exercise counseling from male doctors compared to female patients receiving care from female doctors. In female patient/female physician pairs and female/male pairs of both types, there were no significant differences in any form of weight-related counseling.

The finding that all patients had similar odds of receiving weight-related counseling when a female patient or female physician was part of the pair may result in part from the perception that women are more likely to be dissatisfied with their weight. Female physicians may choose to avoid weight-related discussions with their obese patients and male physicians may avoid weight-related discussions with their obese female patients.

Using data from the 2005–2007 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, researchers analyzed clinical data from 5,667 obese patients to determine association between patient-physician concordance and three types of counseling: diet/nutrition (30%), exercise (23%), and weight reduction (20%) counseling.

Although one-third of US adults are obese, less than 30% of these individuals receive weight-related counseling despite the fact that such counseling is associated with modest weight loss, which is in turn linked to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose.

The article is “Patient–Physician Gender Concordance and Weight-Related Counseling of Obese Patients” by Octavia Pickett-Blakely, MD, MHS, Sara N. Bleich, PhD, and Lisa A. Cooper, MD, MPH (doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.02.020). It appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Volume 40, Issue 6 (June 2011) published by Elsevier.


# # #


Notes For Editors
Full text of the articles is available to credentialed journalists upon request; contact eAJPM@ucsd.edu. To schedule an interview with Dr. Octavia Pickett-Blakely, please contact her directly at Octavia.pickett-blakely@uphs.upenn.edu.

This work was supported by two grants from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (1K01HL096409 and K24HL083113) and a grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (T32 DK007713-13S1).

About The American Journal of Preventive Medicine
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine ( www.ajpm-online.net) is the official journal of  The American College of Preventive Medicine ( www.acpm.org) and the  Association for Prevention Teaching and Research ( www.atpm.org). It publishes articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice and policy. Original research is published on interventions aimed at the prevention of chronic and acute disease and the promotion of individual and community health. The journal features papers that address the primary and secondary prevention of important clinical, behavioral and public health issues such as injury and violence, infectious disease, women's health, smoking, sedentary behaviors and physical activity, nutrition, diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and drug abuse. Papers also address educational initiatives aimed at improving the ability of health professionals to provide effective clinical prevention and public health services. The journal also publishes official policy statements from the two co-sponsoring organizations, health services research pertinent to prevention and public health, review articles, media reviews, and editorials.

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, with an Impact Factor of 4.235, is ranked 11th out of 122 Public, Environmental & Occupational Health titles and 16th out of 132 General and Internal Medicine titles according to the 2010 Journal Citation Reports©published by Thomson Reuters.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Elsevier Research Intelligence,and ClinicalKey—and publishes over 2,200 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and over 25,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works.

The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC, a world leading provider of professional information solutions in the Science, Medical, Legal and Risk and Business sectors, which is jointly owned by Reed Elsevier PLC and Reed Elsevier NV. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Media Contact
AJPM Editorial Office
+1 858-534-9340
eAJPM@ucsd.edu