Assessment of Patient Motivation
Assessment of patient motivation is a prerequisite for weight loss therapy. Weight reduction in the clinical setting represents a major investment of time and effort on the part of the health care team and expense to the patient. For these reasons, motivation for weight loss should be relatively high before initiating clinical therapy. At the same time, it is the duty of the primary care practitioner to heighten a patient's motivation for weight loss when such is perceived to be of significant benefit for risk reduction. This can be done by enumerating the dangers associated with persistent obesity and by describing the strategy for clinically assisted weight reduction. For patients who are not motivated (or able) to enter clinical weight loss therapy, appropriate management of risk factors (e.g., high serum cholesterol, hypertension, smoking, and type 2 diabetes) is still necessary. Sustained weight reduction may facilitate control of cardiovascular risk factors and delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Rationale: Assessment of the patient's motivation for treatment by the practitioner is important in the decision to initiate a weight loss program. The following factors must be evaluated:
One of the most important aspects of the initial evaluation is to prepare patients for treatment. Reviewing patients' past attempts at weight loss and explaining how the new treatment plan will be different can encourage patients and provide hope for successful weight loss. It is helpful to discuss the proposed course of treatment and describe necessary behaviors, such as keeping diaries of food intake and physical activity.
Finally, given the social stigmatization that obese patients often feel, even from health care professionals, the initial evaluation is an opportunity to show the patient respect, concern, and hope (550). A patient who has shared feelings about being overweight and previous attempts to lose weight with a sympathetic listener may be more willing to consider new ideas and information. A partnership in which the patient feels supported and understood can help to sustain the necessary motivation for the difficult task of weight loss and maintenance (551, 552).