Case study of GP attitudes and approaches to referral for obesity intervention in two NSW Medicare Locals

Lin-Lee Yeong, Mark Harris, Ian Caterson, Kyoung Kon Kim
Publication type: 
Conference presentation
Stream 3 Implementation of obesity guidelines in PHC

The presentation slides are available here.

Webcast is available here


Recent medico-legal litigation highlighted some of the barriers to GP referral to obesity intervention. This study aimed to explore the attitudes and approaches of GPs towards referral of obese patients for bariatric surgery and specialised weight loss services.


Semi-structured qualitative interviews and case study analysis were conducted with GPs in four general practices in South West Sydney Illawarra-Shoalhaven in NSW as a part of a larger qualitative study conducted by COMPaRE-PHC.

Principal findings

Despite similar geographic access to specialist referral services, there were differences in the degree to which GPs felt able to use referral services. GPs who felt there were limited referral options exhibited frustration and negative attitudes towards the management of their obese patients. GPs who felt there was a range of options available to them were more positive about the management of obesity and less negative towards their patients' motivation. They were more likely to refer their patients and actively negotiate ways to address barriers to weight loss.


GPs sense of control over referral options was associated with their attitudes and approaches to their obese patients. Providing GPs with a wider range of options that are culturally and economically appropriate may influence their attitudes towards obesity management. This needs to be considered by Local Hospital Networks when planning referral pathways for obesity and more support for obesity in general practice is needed.

Presentation type


Session theme

Weight management

Session details

2:15pm Fri 25 July, Torrens Room


Yeong L, Harris M, Caterson I, Kim K. (2014). Case study of GP attitudes and approaches to referral for obesity intervention in two NSW Medicare Locals. In: 2014 Primary Health Care Research Conference: Program & Abstracts. Primary Health Care Research and Information Service, Australia.