Experiences and perceptions of dietitians for obesity management: a general practice qualitative study

Sally Abbott (Lead Author), Helen Parretti, Sheila Greenfield

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5 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Multi-component lifestyle interventions are the first line treatment for obesity. Dietitians are ideally placed healthcare professionals to deliver such interventions. However, only a small proportion of patients with obesity are referred by general practice to dietitians, and the reasons for this are not clear. The present study aimed to explore general practice healthcare professionals’ (GPHCPs) experiences and perceptions of dietitians in the context of obesity management. Methods: A convenience sample of GPHCPs practicing in the UK was recruited via a targeted social media strategy, using virtual snowball sampling. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and analysed using framework analysis. Results: In total, 20 participants were interviewed (11 general practice nurses and nine general practitioners). Experiences of referring patients with obesity for dietetic intervention resulted in two main themes: (i) access barriers and (ii) the dietetic consult experience. Three themes emerged from participants’ perceptions of a role for general practice dietitians: (i) utilising dietetic expertise; (ii) access to dietitian; and (iii) time. Participants experienced barriers to accessing dietitians for obesity management and felt that having a dietitian working within their general practice team would help address this. Having a dietitian embedded within their general practice team was perceived to have the potential to alleviate GPHCPs’ clinical time pressures, offer opportunities for upskilling, and may improve patient engagement with obesity management. Conclusions: GPHCPs perceived that embedding a dietitian within their general practice team would be valuable and beneficial for obesity management. Our findings provide support for the funding of general practice dietitian roles in the UK.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)494-503
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • dietetics
  • general practice
  • obesity
  • primary care
  • qualitative research
  • weight loss

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