Weight management in general practice: piloting the Counterweight Program in Australia

Jodi Gray, Hossein Afzali, Mark Harris, Catherine Spooner, Veronica Hunter-Riviere, Hazel Ross, Anna Bell-Higgs, Jonathan Karnon
Publication type: 
Conference presentation
Stream 3 Implementation of obesity guidelines in PHC

Population Health Congress, Hobart 6-9 September 2015.

This poster is available here



NHMRC’s clinical practice guidelines position weight management as part of routine preventative care. Developed in the UK, the Counterweight Program provides a structured, evidence-based model for obesity management delivered by practice nurses. To ensure sustainable delivery, an adequate funding model is required. A pilot study explored the feasibility and acceptability of Counterweight and a Medicare-based funding model to Australian general practices and patients.


Six nurses, from three practices, were trained to deliver Counterweight. Over six sessions, patients receive healthy lifestyle information incorporating behaviour modification techniques. Practice payments were offered for each session, mimicking a Medicare service payment. Patient measurements and characteristics will be extracted from medical records using an automated tool. Feasibility and acceptability will be evaluated via interviews with nurses, GPs and patients.


Three practices were rapidly recruited. Patient recruitment was most successful using opportunistic recruitment by nurses and GPs. Nurse feedback regarding the online training was positive. Nurse engagement with the program has been encouraging. Program delivery to patients is ongoing.


Initial response has been encouraging. The pilot study is informing a randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of Counterweight in Australia. If the evidence supports it, an application to the Medical Services Advisory Committee will be made to fund the program under the MBS.

Key message

The study will determine the feasibility and acceptability of a structured weight management program delivered by Australian practices nurses. To ensure the sustainability of the program, an adequate funding structure must be planned.