Currently in the United States, obesity affects two-thirds of adults. The obesity epidemic is associated with high health care costs – not only individuals but to employers, insurers and health systems. By involving patients and their partners in the weight loss journey, researchers are aiming to prove the effectiveness of joint weight management interventions.
Trying to find a solution to this epidemic is Ryan Shaw, PhD, RN, associate professor at Duke University School of Nursing; and his team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who have been awarded $452,581 for their NIH/NIDDK R01 subcontract proposal “Using Partners to Enhance Long-Term Weight Loss.”
Shaw and his team previously designed and tested a novel intervention where patients’ partners were taught principles of social support to aid the patients in their weight loss goals with the goal of decreasing the patient’s weight regain over an extended time period.
For this project, Shaw is collaborating with Corrine Voils, PhD, professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health; to continue research on their past work on a project incorporating evidence-based weight loss counseling for patients and their partners to effectively achieve long-term weight loss.
In this project, patients will receive evidence-based weight loss counseling in group visits and maintenance-specific behavior skills training. Further into the project, patients will also receive text messages reinforcing intervention principles. Researchers will monitor their diets, physical activity and weight through a mobile phone application, physical activity monitors such as Fitbits and motivational text messages.
Using mobile technology as a data collection tool creates an easy way to engage patients and their partners for an extended period of time.
“In this project, we’re able to implement the existing mobile technology environment we’ve created at DUSON and expand our capabilities by engaging not only patients but their immediate family as well,” says Shaw.
The patients’ partners will also attend group sessions where they will learn and practice communal coping strategies such as joint goal setting and action planning. Partners will also receive text messages that contain information on their partner’s goals and relapse prevention plans, reinforce social support principles and enhance their commitment to the support plan.
The results of this project will provide insight into the efficacy of involving domestic partners to enhance long-term weight loss. With the information published as a result of this project, health care professionals will have the ability to refine interventions to optimize patient outcomes and examine cost-effective approaches to reducing the prevalence of obesity and its associated health outcomes in future work.