Medical journey of patients with polycystic ovary syndrome and obesity: a cross-sectional survey of patients and primary care physicians

Katherine Sherif, Jamie Coborn, Anthony Hoovler, Lisa Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: Patients with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) report dissatisfaction with the diagnostic process and are more likely to have overweight or obesity. We wanted to understand the role that primary care physicians (PCPs) play in the diagnosis of PCOS and how they contribute to treatment of patients with PCOS and obesity. Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was completed by 251 patients with PCOS and obesity (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) and 305 healthcare providers (PCPs, obstetricians/gynecologists, reproductive and general endocrinologists). This paper focuses on the 75 PCPs treating patients with PCOS and obesity. Results: In the most common patient journey, we found that most patients with PCOS and obesity (53%) have initial discussions about PCOS symptoms with PCPs. However, less than one quarter of patients receive a PCOS diagnosis (22%) or initial treatment (24%) for PCOS from a PCP. One quarter of patients also reported receiving a misdiagnosis from a PCP prior to their PCOS diagnosis. Compared to other healthcare providers surveyed, PCPs were the least comfortable making a PCOS diagnosis. Compared to PCPs without an obesity management focus, PCPs with an obesity management focus were more likely to diagnose patients themselves (38% vs 62%) and initiate PCOS treatment themselves (42% vs 57%). According to PCPs, difficulty with obesity management (47%) was the top reason that patients with PCOS and obesity stop seeing them for PCOS management. Conclusion: PCPs are often the initial medical touchpoint for patients with PCOS and obesity. However, PCPs play a smaller role in diagnosis and treatment of PCOS. Increasing education on obesity management may encourage PCPs to diagnose and treat more patients with PCOS and offer strategies to help patients with obesity management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-320
Number of pages9
JournalPostgraduate medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by Novo Nordisk, Inc. (USA) employees of which had a role in the analysis and interpretation of the data (JC and AH). The authors would like to thank John Newman and Elizabeth Tanner of KJT Group, Inc. (Rochester, NY, USA) for medical writing and editing assistance and support (funding provided by Novo Nordisk).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Anti-obesity agents
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • obesity management
  • primary health care
  • self report
  • weight loss

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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