Thursday, October 22, 2009

Learning How to Treat Obesity from a UK NHS Program

In our October 14, 2009 blog post, we discussed the Chronic Care Model as a tool to treat obesity. The model was developed by the MacColl Institute for Healthcare Innovation. Since obesity is viewed as a chronic illness, the model might be used to fight obesity. In the model, the obese patient plays the central role in the model. Now, a UK program is confirming the importance of the role the patient must play in obesity treatment.

The UK program is about one year old. The program is an “NHS [National Health Service] nurses led service” program. As the description indicates, nurses lead the program. The program emphasizes patient education as a way for the patient to establish a strategy for losing weight. Indeed, in the UK program, as in the Chronic Care Model, an educated patient with assistance from trained professionals can lead to weight loss.

As we mentioned before, the Chronic Care Model consists of six elements. These elements are: community resources and policies, the provider’s health care organization, case management, delivery system design, decision support, and self-management. And the self-management aspect of the Chronic Care Model is the most important element of the model.

It was pointed out in our Chronic Care Model blog post that some of the most important functions of the model are best carried out by trained non-physicians. And again, the UK program’s nurse leadership supports the belief that non-physician professionals can play a significant role in the treatment of a chronic illness such as obesity.

It appears that much is being learned about non-surgical, non-drug approaches to treating obesity. If research can continue to help improve these weight loss approaches, more obesity patients will be able to successfully deal with obesity on a long term basis. Of course, bariatric or weight loss centers should follow research in this area, and make use of applicable research results.

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