Pilot Study Evaluating the Feasibility and Initial Outcomes of a Primary Care Weight Loss Intervention With Peer Coaches

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this single-group pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and initial outcomes of a novel approach to delivering weight loss treatment in primary care using peer coaches and targeting predominantly African American patients with diabetes or prediabetes.

Methods

Participants (N = 33) were recruited from a family medicine practice for a 6-month lifestyle intervention. Eligible patients were obese adults (body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m2) with ≥1 additional cardiometabolic risk factor(s), including (1) elevated hemoglobin A1C or diagnosed diabetes, (2) elevated blood pressure, (3) elevated triglycerides, and/or (4) low high-density lipoprotein. The intervention included a combination of 12 group-based office visits with health professionals plus 12 individual phone contacts with peer coaches. Outcomes included weight loss, program adherence, and program satisfaction.

Results

Participants (mean age = 56 ± 10 years; BMI = 42.9 ± 11.0 kg/m2) were predominantly female (88%) and African American (85%). Treatment resulted in a significant mean weight loss of -4.5 ± 7.2 kg, and approximately 27% of participants lost ≥5% of their initial body weight. Participants completed approximately 50% of the group visits and 40% of the telephone calls with peer coaches. Participants rated both components of the intervention favorably.

Conclusions

Results of this pilot study indicated that a primary care weight management program including group-based visits and peer-delivered telephone contacts achieved significant weight loss among predominantly African American patients with weight-related comorbidities, including diabetes and prediabetes. Additional research is needed to examine the long-term outcomes of this novel approach and to identify program components supporting patients’ success.

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