Background

Little is known about the knowledge, attitudes, or practices related to overweight or obesity (OW/OB) among emergency medicine providers (EMPs).

Methods

A survey was developed by incorporating questions from previously published studies and distributed electronically to 172 EMPs in general and pediatric emergency departments (EDs) affiliated with a large northeastern academic center.

Results

Of 117 respondents (68%), 53% were male, 74% white, and 70% were attending physicians. Most primarily treat adult patients (86%). Mean age was 41 years (SD=13.6), median practice duration was 11 years (IQR=4-18), and 54% practiced exclusively in an academic setting. The majority never received formal training in screening for or treatment of obesity. Nearly all agreed that obesity is associated with serious medical conditions (92%) and early treatment is important (90%). Most reported being somewhat or very likely to notice/assess BMI in their clinical practice (71%), though 54% reported they were not at all or only slightly likely to bring up weight. Only 13% expressed confidence in finding resources for patients with OW/OB. Most agreed that time constraints (56%) and lack of resources within (88%) and outside of the ED (56%) present challenges to addressing OW/OB. Most EMPs wanted to improve their counseling skills regarding weight (69%) and access to weight management resources to provide ED patients (81%).

Conclusions

Among this sample of EMPs, there is consensus that obesity is a serious medical condition and treatment is important, but lack of time, resources, and knowledge limit weight-related interventions in EDs. These findings suggest potential training opportunities for EMPs.