Fismer, K., Watts, S., Bradbury, K.J. and Lewith, G.T.
Investigating a multidisciplinary and patient-centred approach to obesity
European Journal of Integrative Medicine (doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2012.02.003).
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Obesity is set to become one of the biggest health problems facing governments in Europe. With a significant sequela of associated chronic conditions, treatment and prevention must become priorities in healthcare provision and policy. The cause and treatment of obesity is complex. However, evidence supports the patient-centred approach, which was the focus of discussion at a multidisciplinary educational event for healthcare students and patients held at the University of Southampton. The aim was to increase existing knowledge, promote shared learning and facilitate a better understanding of strategies needed to address the growing prevalence of obesity. The necessity for improved research strategies and a more integrated, multidisciplinary approach to treatment were echoed by the panel of expert researchers and practitioners who spoke. There was also a consensus that obesity needs to be seen as a chronic health concern by governments and health practitioners. In addition, the event provided a locus for inter-professional student groups to work collaboratively with obese (or formerly obese) patients to explore the patients’ perspective regarding obstacles to health improvement and possible solutions. Feedback indicated that both students and patients found this experience valuable and rewarding. Some patients were motivated to join other community health initiatives as a result, whilst students indicated that their understanding, future practice and research would be enhanced. Therefore it seems that this experiential approach to collaborative learning may provide a model for further educational events with a focus on patient-centred treatment of similar long term chronic health problems.
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