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Open Access Study protocol

Weight Care Project: Health professionals' attitudes and ability to assess body weight status - Study protocol

Anne Moorhead1*, Vivien Coates2, Diane Hazlett1, Alison Gallagher3, Kathy Murphy4, Geraldine Nolan5 and John Dinsmore1

Author Affiliations

1 School of Communication, University of Ulster, Shore Road, Newtownabbey, BT37 0QB, Northern Ireland

2 School of Nursing, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine, BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland

3 School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Ulster, Cromore Road, Coleraine, BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland

4 School of Nursing, National University of Ireland, Galway Republic of Ireland

5 Department of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland, Galway Republic of Ireland

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:202  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-202

Published: 31 March 2011

Abstract

Background

Health professionals working in primary care and public health have opportunities to address body weight status issues with their patients through face-to-face contact. The objectives of this all-Ireland project are: 1. to assess the attitudes, current practices/behaviours and knowledge of key health professional groups on body weight status; 2. to assess the health professional groups' ability to identify body weight status in both adults and children. The health professional groups are: (a) community related public health nurses; (b) school public health nurses; (c) GPs and practice nurses (primary care); and (d) occupational health nurses (workplace) from both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Methods/Design

This all-Ireland multi-disciplinary project follows a mixed methods approach using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, and consists of four components:

1. Literature review - to explore the role of health professionals in managing obesity through spontaneous intervention in a variety of health promotion settings.

2. Telephone interviews and focus groups - to gain an in-depth insight into the views of health professionals in assessing body weight status.

3. Survey (primarily online but also paper-based) - to determine the attitudes, current practices/behaviours and knowledge of health professionals in assessing body weight status.

4. Online evaluation study - an online interactive programme will be developed to assess health professionals' ability to identify the body weight status of adults and children.

Discussion

This project will assess and report the attitudes, current practices/behaviours and knowledge of key health professional groups within Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on body weight status, and their ability to identify body weight status in both adults and children. The results of this project will generate recommendations for clinical practice in managing obesity, which may inform policy guidelines.