Tailoring obesity management for specific populations

Morgan Liotta

24/09/2019 1:28:10 PM

Patient experience outcomes and a PhD led Dr Liz Sturgiss to a funded project aimed at enhancing obesity management for people in low-income groups.

Dr Liz Sturgiss
Dr Liz Sturgiss hopes to borrow patient experiences to build on her research project.

‘I was struck by the national patient experience survey that consistently shows that people from low-income groups report feeling less respected, that they aren’t listened to, and do not have adequate time spent with them in general practice.’
That is Dr Liz Sturgiss from Monash University talking to newsGP about what helped form the backbone of her research project, ‘Enhancing primary healthcare for adults on low incomes with obesity – An intervention development study’, for which she was recently awarded an Investigator Grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
‘I am interested in why this is happening in general practice and how we might improve primary care for people from low-income groups,’ she explained.
Findings from Dr Sturgiss’ research identified that adults on low incomes have higher rates of obesity, poorer health outcomes and healthcare experiences. The aim of her work is to determine why adverse healthcare experiences occur in this demographic, and design programs for use within general practice teams to support better primary care for adults with obesity.
‘Supporting better primary healthcare for adults on low incomes is an important step in reducing healthcare gaps in the Australian community,’ Dr Sturgiss said.
‘Obesity is a condition that affects people from low-income groups and, in particular, women in low-income groups.
‘We also know that to improve health inequity we need to design interventions with low-income groups specifically in mind.’
The plan is to develop implementation strategies based on patient experiences, using this information to build on the design programs hoped to be utilised in general practice teams.
‘This project is going to start right at the beginning; we haven’t made any assumptions about what we might need to do to improve outcome for patients from low-income groups,’ Dr Sturgiss said.
‘The most exciting thing about this project is that it is an exploratory project using ethnographic methods.
‘It is an intensive qualitative project that will produce new knowledge about how and why general practice works.’
The project builds on the work Dr Sturgiss did during her PhD, where she explored how obesity is managed in general practice and how GPs can be better supported to do so.
‘This research grant gives me the opportunity to work further on this and explore the issues in more detail,’ she said.
‘I am very grateful for this amazing opportunity from the NHMRC. I will be using the next five years to discover more about the science and art of general practice to improve patient care, particularly for low-income groups.’
Investigator Grants is the NHMRC’s largest funding scheme, with a 40% allocation from the Medical Research Endowment Account.
The scheme’s objective is to support the research of outstanding investigators at all career stages, providing five-year funding security for high-performing researchers through its salary and research support packages. The 2019 Investigator Grants funding totals $365.8 million.

low income obesity research socioeconomic

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