Article Text

Increasing general practitioners' confidence and self-efficacy in managing obesity: a mixed methods study
  1. Elizabeth Sturgiss1,
  2. Emily Haesler1,2,
  3. Nicholas Elmitt1,
  4. Chris van Weel1,3,
  5. Kirsty Douglas1
  1. 1Academic Unit of General Practice, Australian National University Medical School, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  2. 2School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, Curtin University, Perth, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
  3. 3Department of Primary and Community Care, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Dr Elizabeth Sturgissm; elizabeth.sturgiss{at}


Objectives Internationally, general practitioners (GPs) are being encouraged to take an active role in the care of their patients with obesity, but as yet there are few tools for them to implement within their clinics. This study assessed the self-efficacy and confidence of GPs before and after implementing a weight management programme in their practice.

Design Nested mixed methods study within a 6-month feasibility trial.

Setting 4 urban general practices and 1 rural general practice in Australia.

Participants All vocationally registered GPs in the local region were eligible and invited to participate; 12 GPs were recruited and 11 completed the study.

Interventions The Change Programme is a structured GP-delivered weight management programme that uses the therapeutic relationship between the patient and their GP to provide holistic and person-centred care. It is an evidence-based programme founded on Australian guidelines for the management of obesity in primary care.

Primary outcome measures Self-efficacy and confidence of the GPs when managing obesity was measured using a quantitative survey consisting of Likert scales in conjunction with pro forma interviews.

Results In line with social cognitive theory, GPs who experienced performance mastery during the pilot intervention had an increase in their confidence and self-efficacy. In particular, confidence in assisting and arranging care for patients was improved as demonstrated in the survey and supported by the qualitative data. Most importantly from the qualitative data, GPs described changing their usual practice and felt more confident to discuss obesity with all of their patients.

Conclusions A structured management tool for obesity care in general practice can improve GP confidence and self-efficacy in managing obesity. Enhancing GP ‘professional self-efficacy’ is the first step to improving obesity management within general practice.

Trial registration number ACTRN12614001192673; Results.

  • obesity
  • self efficacy
  • confidence

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  • Contributors ES, EH, NE, CvW and KD contributed to the design of this study. Acknowledgement to Dr Freya Ashman who collected the data. ES and NE analysed the qualitative data. EH designed the graphs for the presentation of the quantitative data. ES wrote the original draft and was responsible for reviewing each draft until finalisation. ES, EH, NE, CvW and KD contributed to the editing of the manuscript and approved the final version.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute via a 2014 Foundation Grant.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Australian National University Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data sharing statement The original data set is held by the Academic Unit of General Practice at the Australian National University Medical School, Canberra Hospital campus. Access to the original data by researchers outside the research team would require approval via ethics committee.

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