Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 8, pp 1503–1521 | Cite as

Primary Care Patients’ and Providers’ Perspectives about an Online Weight Management Program: a Qualitative Study

  • Ronen RozenblumEmail author
  • Barbara A. De La Cruz
  • Nyryan V. Nolido
  • Ihorma Adighibe
  • Kristina Secinaro
  • Katherine D. McManus
  • Florencia Halperin
  • Jason P. Block
  • David W. Bates
  • Heather J. Baer
Original Research



Primary care providers (PCPs) often take the lead role in caring for patients with overweight and obesity; however, few PCPs counsel patients about weight loss. Online weight management programs that are integrated within primary care may help address this gap in care.


To identify perceptions of and experience with online weight management programs in general and with a proposed online program, to identify barriers to use, and to improve the design and content of our intervention, which included an online program plus population health management (PHM) support from primary care practices.


A mixed qualitative methods study including three patient focus groups and seven semi-structured interviews with healthcare providers.


A total of 13 adult patients (age range, 20–70) with body mass index (BMI) 27–35 kg/m2 attended the focus groups. In-person semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven healthcare providers (three PCPs, two population health managers, one primary care nurse, and one registered dietitian).

Main Measures

We developed and used semi-structured focus groups and interview guides. The focus group and interviews were recorded and transcribed. Using grounded theory, we analyzed the transcripts to identify and extract common concepts and themes.

Key Results

Although patients and healthcare providers expressed positive opinions about online weight management programs, few patients had experience with them, and providers stated that such programs are not being widely implemented in primary care settings. Some participants highlighted the flexibility and low cost as strengths of online weight management tools compared with in-person programs. All participants had favorable opinions about our proposed intervention and were overwhelmingly positive about the combination of an online program and PHM support.


This study highlights the potential value of online weight management programs and PHM support in primary care.

Clinical Trials Registration



weight management overweight obesity primary care online program 



Research reported in this presentation was funded through a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) Award (14-092-1758). All statements in this report, including its findings and conclusions, are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), its Board of Governors, or its Methodology Committee.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

This study is compliant with Ethical Standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they do not have a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronen Rozenblum
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Barbara A. De La Cruz
    • 1
  • Nyryan V. Nolido
    • 1
  • Ihorma Adighibe
    • 1
  • Kristina Secinaro
    • 1
  • Katherine D. McManus
    • 1
  • Florencia Halperin
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jason P. Block
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • David W. Bates
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
  • Heather J. Baer
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1. Brigham and Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  2. 2.Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care & Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  3. 3.Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  4. 4.Harvard Pilgrim Health Care InstituteBostonUSA
  5. 5.Harvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

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