This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.
What is the research about?
Obesity and overweight affect more than two-thirds of US adults and can cause health problems like high blood pressure or diabetes. Patients often want to lose weight and want advice from their primary care doctors. But doctors don’t always have the time or knowledge to guide patients on weight loss. Doctors may be better able to help patients lose weight if they can offer or refer them to weight loss programs that have been proven to work.
One way doctors can help their patients is with online weight loss programs. These programs help patients learn about weight loss, plan meals, and track progress toward goals. They can be more convenient than in-person programs. Online programs have been proven to work in some settings, but researchers don’t know if they help patients and primary care providers work together on weight loss. Doctors also can help patients who are trying to lose weight without an online program by tracking their weight loss and talking about it with them.
Researchers want to examine how weight loss programs work for patients who have long-term health problems related to obesity, like diabetes or high blood pressure. The research team wants to know how much weight patients lose if they use the online weight loss program, if they use the online program and receive support from their primary care doctor, or if they receive care as they normally would.
Who can this research help?
The results of this research can help primary care doctors choose strategies to help their patients with overweight or obesity lose weight.
What is the research team doing?
The research team is changing an existing online weight management program using feedback from patients and doctors. The online program gives patients information about weight loss and offers meal plans and calorie goals for each patient. It also helps patients track their weight, diet, and exercise. Patients can share this information with their primary care doctors and other staff at their primary care practice. Researchers are recruiting patients from 15 primary care clinics. Patients in the study are between 20 and 70 years old, have diabetes or high blood pressure, and have a body mass index, or BMI, between 27 and 40. BMI is a measure based on a person’s weight and height. The team is assigning each clinic by chance to offer one of three strategies to patients who are in the study:
- Patients in the first group receive the same care that they would normally receive for weight management. Patients also receive general written information about weight management at the beginning of the study.
- Patients in the second group get access to an online weight management program and are asked to use it for about one year.
- Patients in the third group also get access to an online weight management program and are asked to use it for about one year. Patients in this group also receive support from a person who works with their primary care doctor. This person monitors patients’ progress in the online program and contacts patients regularly to see how they are doing.
Patients and doctors are taking surveys during the study. The research team is using these surveys and the patients’ medical records to learn
- How much patients’ weight changes after one year
- How patients feel that their weight affects their quality of life
- How much patients’ blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels change
- What patients eat and how much they exercise
- Doctors’ views and attitudes about weight management and the online program
The research team worked with patient advisors to plan ways to recruit patients for the study and keep them involved during the study period.
Research methods at a glance
Other Health Services Interventions
Training and Education Interventions