Empathetic Physicians Can Motivate Overweight Patients

Researchers studied the conversations between 40 primary care physicians and 461 of their overweight or obese patients to see if weight was mentioned by the doctor and, if so, in what manner. Overall, doctors talked about weight in 69% of appointments, and that conversation took up an average 3.5 minutes.

However, three months following, there was no difference in weight seen among patients who had a talk about weight with their doctors and those who didn’t.

But there was a difference among doctors who counseled their patients. Patients of those who used motivational techniques lost an average 3.1 pounds. Those that had a judgmental and confrontational style gained an average 0.4 pounds.

“When physicians discuss weight in a way that is collaborative, supports patient autonomy and allows the patient to be the driver of change, the patient may be more likely to change,” said the authors whose study appears in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Maybe empathy works better, but if these patients talked to Jillian from the Biggest Loser, fear would certainly be the motivating factor!