In a survey of physicians, certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM), by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, has found that these practitioners commonly offer key services supported by scientific research and clinical trials. This suggests that primary care clinicians can be increasingly confident that their patients will receive this ‘evidence-based care’ when referred to an obesity specialist. Overall, most of the respondents endorsed the use of nutrition, behavioural services, weight-loss surgical care and anti-obesity medications approved by the FDA.
Previous research studies showed that the percentage of physicians providing adequate counselling and treatment to patients with obesity remains low. The latest findings, ‘Physicians certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine provide evidence‐based care’, were published in the journal Clinical Obesity.
"Modifications are key to losing weight," explained study lead author, Dr Kimberly Gudzune, associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and director of both the Johns Hopkins Healthful Eating, Activity and Weight Program and the Johns Hopkins Obesity Medicine Fellowship. "A lot of physician training doesn't include obesity treatments such as lifestyle counselling and medication management, and without it, you're unlikely to help patients lose weight. We want to ensure that obesity medicine providers are providing great care to help patients achieve long-term success."
Through ABOM, Gudzune and colleagues surveyed over 490-obesity medicine certified physicians. The physicians were asked about their current clinical practices in the hope of learning if the services they offer are in line with currently accepted science.
They found that the majority of ABOM physicians responding to their survey offered nutritional (90%), exercise (68%) and mental health (77%) counselling to their patients. Only a few offered minimally invasive procedures (24%), but most provided care before and after surgery (63%). Most (83%) prescribed FDA‐approved medications, both short‐ and long‐term agents (71%).
The researchers concluded that most responding ABOM Diplomates offer evidence‐based obesity medicine services and clinicians may therefore have increased confidence in patient receipt of evidence‐based care when referring to an ABOM Diplomate.
Gudzune plans to use the study's findings to raise patient awareness that there are health care providers specifically trained to help with obesity and its consequences, such as a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, certain cancers and premature death. She also hopes the study results can be used to identify where gaps may exist in obesity care and to support development of more comprehensive treatments.