Primary care providers’ perspectives on initiating childhood obesity conversations: a qualitative study

Derek Hersch, Marc James A Uy, Samantha Ngaw, Katie Loth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Primary care physicians (PCPs) are in a critical position for identifying, preventing and treating childhood obesity. However, a one-size-fits-all approach does not exist for having conversations about weight with families. A better understanding of how PCPs can address paediatric patients' weight concerns is needed in order to develop effective guidelines and trainings. OBJECTIVE: To describe PCPs preferences and behaviours regarding weight-related conversations with paediatric patients' and their families. METHODS: Twenty PCPs affiliated with the University of Minnesota, USA, were recruited to participate in semi-structured interviews. Transcripts were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. RESULTS: PCP's identified well-child visits as the most appropriate time for weight-related discussions with families. Physicians described what approaches/elements they perceived to work best during conversations: collaboration, empathy, health-focused and objective measures. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, PCPs were more comfortable with weight-related discussions during annual well-child visits and rarely initiated them during an acute visit or the first encounter with a patient. Objective measures, such as growth charts, were often utilized to start discussions. Considering a large proportion of well-child visits are missed, alternative opportunities to have discussions about healthy lifestyle behaviours should be explored. The integral role PCPs play in paediatric obesity warrants further research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-467
Number of pages8
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number4
Early online dateMar 2 2021
StatePublished - Jul 28 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:


  • Attitude of health personnel
  • delivery of health care
  • family practice
  • paediatric obesity/prevention & control
  • physician–patient relations
  • qualitative research

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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