Open Access Research article

Predictors of attendance at an obesity clinic and subsequent weight change

Emma Brook1*, Lauren Cohen1, Paul Hakendorf2, Gary Wittert3 and Campbell Thompson3

Author Affiliations

1 University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

2 Clinical Epidemiology, Flinders Medical Centre and Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

3 Department of Medicine, Royal Adelaide Hospital and University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

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BMC Health Services Research 2014, 14:78  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-14-78

Published: 20 February 2014



There is conflicting evidence regarding characteristics of patients most likely to have poor outcomes after referral to a multidisciplinary weight loss clinic. The aim of this study was to identify patient characteristics associated with poor attendance and poor weight outcomes at a weight management clinic based in an Australian tertiary hospital.


Patient characteristics including age, sex, referral source, postcode of residence, weight, body mass index (BMI) and the presence of specific comorbidities were recorded. Outcome measures included questionnaire return following referral (a requirement prior to a first appointment being scheduled), percentage of appointments attended and rate of weight change (kg/month). Continuous variables were expressed as mean ± standard deviation and compared using a t-test. Categorical data were presented as proportions and a chi-squared test was used to test significance. Statistical significance was set as p < 0.05.


Of 502 patients referred to the Comprehensive Metabolic Care Centre (CMCC), 231 (46%) did not return their questionnaire. Patients referred by their GP, compared to those with only internal hospital referrals, were more likely to return their questionnaire (86.0% cf. 77.9%; p = 0.02) as were those who had their BMI recorded in their referral letter (58% cf 45% p = 0.011). 28.1% of patients attended half or less of their scheduled appointments at the CMCC but none of the parameters analysed was associated with attendance. Weight loss was associated with residence in a rural location (p = 0.016) and hypercholesterolaemia (p = 0.03) and weight gain was associated with obstructive sleep apnoea (p = 0.04).


A large proportion of the patients referred to a weight management clinic never had an appointment scheduled. Clinicians should not anticipate greater compliance in one patient demographic than another; all groups need focus, particularly at the referral stage, and likely poor compliance must be anticipated and better managed.

Body mass index; Attrition; Depression; Rural residence; Obstructive sleep apnoea; Evaluation