Counterweight Trial

Background / Rationale

The Counterweight Program is an evidence-based weight management program for use in general practice. It has been previously implemented and evaluated in the UK, and recently implemented in Canada. COMPaRE-PHC worked with Counterweight in the UK to adapt the program to the Australian setting. A pilot study was conducted in South Australia.

Recognising that differences in the way health care is funded in the UK and Australia might limit the uptake of Counterweight in Australia. The South Australian pilot incorporated supportive funding mechanisms for delivery of the program. The findings of this pilot study were used to inform the protocol for a large scale randomised control trial that examined the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Counterweight Program in Australia.

Ethics approval was obtained from the University of Adelaide Human Research Ethic Committee (approval number H-2014-183).


The project aimed to:

  • Implement the Counterweight Program in general practices in South Australia.
  • Trial a service payment to support the delivery of the six Counterweights sessions.
  • Determine the feasibility, uptake and acceptability of the Counterweight Program and the study methods to Australian general practices and patients.


This was a mixed method evaluation of the implementation of the Counterweight weight-loss program, including:

  • Face-face interviews with service providers and patients
  • Data collected from consenting patients’ medical records (for example weight and blood pressure)

Target sample

The pilot study recruited three general practices in the Northern Adelaide Medicare Local (NAML). This region covers the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Playford, Salisbury, Tea Tree Gully, Gawler, Mallala and part of the City of Port Adelaide Enfield. Across the three practices, 65 patients were recruited.

Data collection

Data was collected on:

  • The health outcomes of patients participating in the Counterweight Program, including changes in weight and BMI
  • The feasibility, uptake and acceptability of the program and the study method through qualitative interviews with practice staff and patients.


Publications describing the findings of the study are now being prepared.


Professor Mark Harris, Director of COMPaRE-PHC and Stream 2 and 3 leader: