When participating in weight-loss programs, a helpful physician can improve the chances of success for people with obesity, according to the findings of researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD.
Their study, published in Patient Education and Counseling, found that obese people participating in a weight loss clinical trial who reported their health care provider's support as particularly helpful lost twice as much weight as those who did not.
"This trial supports other evidence that providers are very important in their patients' weight loss efforts," says Dr. Wendy L. Bennett, assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
"Incorporating physicians into future programs might lead patients to more successful weight loss."
The value of a good relationship between a patient and their physician has long been recognized. Research has demonstrated that a high-quality relationship involving empathy, good communication and trust are associated with improved appointment keeping and adherence to courses of medication.
Previously, Johns Hopkins researchers also revealed that physicians were less likely to develop an emotional rapport with their overweight and obese patients in comparison with their patients of normal weight.
To investigate how the patient-physician relationship impacts on weight loss, the researchers analyzed data obtained from the Practice-based Opportunities for Weight Reduction (POWER) trial - a government-funded, randomized controlled study that ran for 2 years.
In the POWER trial, obese participants tried to lose weight after being randomly assigned into one of three treatment groups. One group received written materials, one group received remote support and one group received support in person.