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Revista Portuguesa de Saúde Pública

Print version ISSN 0870-9025


TEIXEIRA, Filipa; PAIS‐RIBEIRO, José L.  and  MAIA, Ângela. Some quit, others persist: similarities and disparities of healthcare providers' speech concerning obesity. Rev. Port. Sau. Pub. [online]. 2015, vol.33, n.2, pp.137-147. ISSN 0870-9025.

Background: Recent studies indicate that healthcare providers, especially in primary healthcare, have negative beliefs and attitudes towards obese, which are negatively affecting their practices by not taking this issue as seriously as they should and, therefore, compromising the success of obesity treatment. However, data is not conclusive and quantitative research is not being able to clarify how health professionals' practices and roles are affected by the way they perceive obesity and obese people. Method: Semi‐structured interviews about beliefs, attitudes and practices about obesity were conducted withe Portuguese general practitioners, nutritionists and nurses working in primary health care centers in the north of Portugal. Data was analyzed according to thematic analysis' procedures. Results: The main themes indicate that all groups are concerned about the obesity pandemic and have similar negative beliefs and attitudes toward obese, who are described as being unmotivated, noncompliant and demonstrating a passive coping and a lack of understanding about the gravity of their condition. General practitioners, due to patients' lack of compliance and success, feel frustrated, have lower expectations of efficacy and are negative about their role in the treatment, giving up in most of the cases. Nutritionists and nurses demonstrate an active role, are persistent, perceived themselves as being able to positively modify obese motivation and believe in the success of the interventions, which, however, are described as a constant struggle between them and the patients. It seems to exist communication problems between these three groups. Discussion: In order to achieve success, healthcare providers should be aware of how their beliefs and attitudes can influence their practices. Education and training concerning treatment options and communications skills should be improved as well as a bigger emphasis should be put on a multidisciplinary approach to obesity.

Keywords : Obesity; Beliefs; Healthcare providers; Primary care setting; Qualitative study.

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