Effects of Education and Experience on Primary Care Providers' Perspectives of Obesity Treatments during a Pragmatic Trial
OBJECTIVE: To examine the impact of a 1-year pragmatic obesity trial on primary care providers' (PCPs) perspectives of treatment. METHODS: PCPs from four intervention clinics (PCP-I) and five control clinics (PCP-C) completed pre- and postintervention surveys on weight-loss counseling, comfort discussing obesity treatments, and perceived effectiveness of interventions; questions were rated on 0 to 10 Likert scales. Only PCP-I received patient updates and education about obesity management. RESULTS: Eighty PCPs completed preintervention surveys (pre: 71% female, 71% physicians); 82 PCPs completed postintervention surveys (post: 66% female, 70% physicians). PCPs were most comfortable discussing exercise before and after the trial (pre PCP-C: 8.22 [1.44], mean [standard deviation (SD)]; post PCP-C: 8.37 [1.24]; P = 0.8; pre/post PCP-I: 7.88 [1.51] vs. 7.80 [1.71]; P = 0.3). PCPs were initially least comfortable discussing phentermine/topiramate extended release (ER) but developed significantly more comfort after the trial, to a greater degree among PCP-I (pre/post PCP-C: 2.86 [2.66] vs. 3.73 [2.72], P < 0.001; pre/post PCP-I: 4.00 [2.57] vs. 6.17 [2.27], P < 0.001). After the trial, both PCPs rated exercise significantly less effective for weight loss, with a greater decrease in effectiveness rations among PCP-I (pre/post PCP-C: 7.73 [1.94] vs. 6.93 [2.35], P = 0.017; pre/post PCP-I: 6.27 [2.69] vs. 5.15 [2.31], P = 0.001). Both PCPs rated phentermine (pre/post PCP-C: 5.03 [2.05] vs. 5.50 [2.12], P = 0.002; pre/post PCP-I: 5.70 [1.64] vs. 6.83 [1.18], P = 0.001) and phentermine/topiramate ER (pre/post PCP-C: 3.91 [2.33] vs. 5.47 [2.54], P < 0.001; pre/post PCP-I: 5.58 [2.21] vs. 7.02 [1.47], P < 0.001) significantly more effective after the trial, though ratings were higher among PCP-I. CONCLUSIONS: PCPs initially overvalued exercise and undervalued weight-loss medications. PCPs exposed to education and experience gave higher comfort and effectiveness ratings to weight-loss medications.