Information for Physicians – Effective Exam Room Communication

Dealing with overweight and obesity is difficult. Many physicians are trying to add this discussion onto an already full clinic agenda. Even so, it is increasingly important to address the issue.

Quickly Addressing Weight Problems in Clinic

Rule #1: You don’t have to talk about diet, exercise or life circumstance. Certainly, don’t start there.

Rule #2: Focus on readiness! When the topic of weight arises, think about stages of change.

When they say: I can’t, I won’t, make an excuse, or tell how great their diet is.

What it means: Pre-contemplation stage of change. They can’t see it or don’t want to look at it.
What you do: Connect their weight or their behaviors to something they care about.

When they say: I might

What it means: Contemplation stage of change. They are on the edge.
What you do: Give a nudge. “Weight loss would really help.”

When they say: I will

What it means: Preparation stage of change
What you do: Ask for a plan and commitment: “How will you do that? When will you start?”

When they say: I am

What it means: Action stage of change. They are doing something.
What you do: Be encouraging. Say something positive. Let them know help is available.

Rule #3: Use the right words or they may not hear what you say.

  • Talk about “weight,” “excess weight,” or “weight problem.”
  • Some will not listen when you say “obese,” “fat,” “heavy,” and others.

Rule #4: Patients and doctors are more effective when thinking of obesity as a disease that afflicts.

  • Use patient -centric language “This is a disease.” “Attack the disease and not yourself.” “It is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.” (draw an analogy to asthma)

This is an important conversation. When they are ready for action, be ready to help. Medical Metabolic Specialists can help you create solutions that work for you, your clinic, and your patients. Give us a call at (970) 980-6024 or send us an email.

Last updated on March 18, 2017