Patient-centered Approach to Treating Obesity
— By Andrea M. Pampaloni, Ph.D.
Treating Obesity. Patient-centered care and patient-centered outcomes have become key measurements in health care and, for many systems, represent the gold-standard of quality health care. This approach increasingly is being viewed even more holistically as “person-centered,” emphasizing the well-being of the whole person in and beyond their interactions within medical facilities. Despite this shift, however, developing patient- or person-centered strategies for people with obesity is lagging.
This is not overly surprising since people with obesity continue to be stigmatized not only by peers and colleagues, but also by health care providers. This problem has been described as “pervasive” in health care settings and can lead to significant medical consequences.1 Until weight bias is overcome, the challenge in providing authentic and comprehensive patient-centered care will continue.
The Impact of Weight on Quality of Life
Helping patients address their weight issues can lead to the quality care outcomes desired both by patients and health care systems. Various aspects of Quality Of Life (QOL) are directly linked to weight and can improve significantly through collaborative interventions. Different measures have been developed to assess QOL, but the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life (IWQOL) questionnaire and the IWQOL-Lite version2 are the first to assess the effects of weight on physical function, self-esteem, sexual life, public distress, and work.
Several studies that have validated this measure and assessed patient-reported quality of life, as indicated in these representative examples:
- In a study of people with obesity and eating disorders, the severity of obesity and binge eating disorder were markers of weight-related QOL
- Weight loss of 10 percent affects each item included in the IWQOL-Lite
- Weight bias internalization scores are associated with IWQOL Lite scores, and with mental and physical aspects of weight-related quality of life
- A review of 20 studies using different weight loss interventions found improvements to all IWQOL-Lite scales, with physical improvements typically more significant than mental health improvements
Very Low Calorie Diets and Quality of Life
A program featuring a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD), such as the New Direction Weight Management System, addresses the issues identified by this research. Weight loss and lifestyle modifications are achieved through a collaborative team approach and the program can be adapted to meet each individual’s needs. Rapid, measurable weight loss leads to medical improvements and provides motivation and mental health benefits. These are among the outcomes patients identify as “extremely important,” with over 95 percent of consumers saying they want a health care experience focused on their health outcomes and overall well-being.3
The studies noted here reinforce what we already know, that is, it is imperative to addresses obesity as the disease it is rather than a behavior problem. This includes taking the whole-person approach at the core of person-centered care by discussing a broad range of treatment options that best meet the needs of each individual patient.
- How and Why Weight Stigma Drives the Obesity “Epidemic” and Harms Health
- Confirmatory Psychometric Evaluations of the Impact of Weight on Quality of Life: Lite Clinical Trials Version (IWQOL-Lite-CT)
- Consumer Perspective on Patient Experience 2021
About the Author: Dr. Andrea Pampaloni has over 20 years of communication experience across corporate, academic, nonprofit and government sectors. She provides research and writing services on a range of business issues and industry-specific topics to prepare white papers, articles, proposals, presentations, technical content, and speaking points, as well as marketing-communications content such as blogs, website content, newsletters, news releases and award submissions. Dr. Pampaloni’s research findings have been presented at national and international conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals, and she is a ghostwriter for three books, a Forbes article, and several corporate blogs.