SON to Unveil Screening Tools to Help Healthcare Workers Better Identify, Manage Overweight/Obese Patients

May 21, 2003

A multi-disciplinary team at the University of Rochester School of Nursing’s Nutrition/Weight Management Center is introducing the region’s first systemized screening and assessment toolkit aimed at improving how physicians and other healthcare professionals identify and design treatment plans for overweight and obese patients. The toolkit will be unveiled at the workshop "Weight Management Screening, Assessment and Intervention Workshop for Adults and Children," to be held Thursday, June 19 at the lounge in Helen Wood Hall.

The nation currently is in the midst of an obesity epidemic, with 61 percent of adults and 14 percent of adolescents across the country now overweight. Monroe County echoes these national statistics, with 35 percent of adults being overweight and 23 percent of adults being obese, according to a survey conducted in 2000/2001 by the Monroe County Health Department. A new study showed that obesity-related health problems like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer cost taxpayers billions of dollars annually -- about the same amount as smoking-related illnesses.

According to Nellie Wixom, R.D., program director of the Nutrition/Weight Management Center, the idea for such a toolkit arose from conversations with healthcare workers at an obesity symposium hosted by the Center last fall. Ways to identify patients and effective interventions to help them lose weight is a growing issue for healthcare professionals.

"Currently, healthcare professionals are in uncharted territory when dealing with overweight or obese patients," Wixom said. "They not only have to figure out who is at-risk, but they must uncover possible underlying causes for the weight gain. And then they have to develop an effective treatment plan for the patient that will allow him or her to lose weight. Unfortunately, there is not a systematic way for healthcare professionals to efficiently and successfully accomplish these three steps."

The toolkit developed by the Nutrition/Weight Management Center addresses all three steps. It includes a simple way to quickly identify overweight and/or obese patients, and provides a questionnaire that healthcare professionals can use with patients to assess readiness and motivation to lose weight . Targeted nutrition and/or physical activity interventions are also included with the toolkit, which the healthcare professional customizes depending on how a patient answered the questionnaire. The toolkit also gives tips for healthcare professionals to improve patient interviewing techniques to better focus in on those areas patients indicate they are most inclined to change.

The workshop is open to physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, dietitians and other healthcare professionals. It runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and costs $125, which includes a copy of the screening and assessment toolkit. Call 585/275-1630 to register or visit www.urmc.rochester.edu/son/cnc.

For Media Inquiries:
Germaine Reinhardt
(585) 275-6517
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