Class 3 obesity (severe obesity) is defined by a body mass index ≥40 kg/m2. Tertiary weight-management programs (WMPs) are hospital-based multidisciplinary services that aim to support individuals with severe obesity. Severe shortage of WMPs has led to waitlists and pressure on clinicians to discharge patients. Community obesity management often fails to support patients in maintaining weight loss/health gains. This study aimed to explore the needs of patients for community-based obesity care.
A qualitative study was undertaken via a tertiary WMP in Sydney, Australia. Semi-structured interviews/focus groups explored perceptions of purposively sampled patients and their clinicians on the community-based support needs of people with severe obesity. Data were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and then thematically analyzed.
Eleven patients and seven clinicians were interviewed. Four themes were identified: the importance of accountability and motivation to maintain weight-loss/health gains; limitations within community-based obesity management for those with severe obesity; perspectives on structured community programs for patients transitioning into/out of tertiary WMPs; and impact of mental health, stigma, and social isolation on engagement with community-based services.
Community-based programs are needed to support those awaiting access to tertiary WMPs and to help maintain health gains once discharged. Such programs should address issues of social isolation and integrate with current models of tertiary metabolic and primary health care.