Professional Poster

A Qualitative Exploration of Interprofessional Roles and Competencies in Obesity Care

Thursday, August 6, 2020, 10:00 am - 10:00 am EDT

There is strong evidence for taking an interprofessional, team-based approach in the treatment and management of obesity. Less clear

is the training received by different health professions and how well prepared teams are to provide high-quality interprofessional care

in obesity treatment and management. The purpose of this study was to explore which professions make up obesity treatment teams,

these healthcare professionals’ roles, training received by different team members, and the interprofessional interactions among these

providers. Individual interviews were conducted with a convenience sample of 15 interprofessional healthcare providers from across

the US working on obesity treatment teams. The research team used an exploratory qualitative approach to systematically analyze

interviews and identify themes from participants’ responses. Four messages emerged from the interviews. (1) The core teams

typically included medicine, nutrition, nursing, and mental health, with nurse practitioners and/or physician assistants. Other

professions highly sought were exercise physiology and social work case managers. (2) There was an expressed belief that each team

member has a valued voice, and can respectfully challenge other team members with the tone set by the team leader. (3) Adequate

interprofessional training in obesity was rare. (4) Learning from other team members was believed to improve the patient experience

and provider satisfaction. In conclusion, as obesity rates remain critically high, one of the challenges cited in the literature is a lack of

universally available coordinated care for patients with obesity. Specific reasons expressed by interviewees included a lack of

reimbursement for all essential and desired interprofessional team members, and insufficient opportunities for training with wellfunctioning

interprofessional obesity teams. While a small sample, these results shed light on the importance of interprofessional

work and training for addressing how best to prepare healthcare professionals for work in interprofessional obesity care teams to

provide safe, high-quality care to patients and families.