The impact of obesity on time spent with the provider and number of medications managed during office-based physician visits using a cross-sectional, national health survey

Pearson, William S.; Bhat-Schelbert, Kavitha; Ford, Earl S.; Mokdad, Ali H.
January 2009
BMC Public Health;2009, Vol. 9, p436
Academic Journal
Background: Obesity is associated with morbidity, mortality, and increased health care costs. Few studies have examined the impact of obesity on outpatient office visits. The purpose of this study was to determine if outpatient visits by obese persons required more time with the provider and more prescription medication management compared to visits made by non-obese persons. Methods: Obesity status was determined for 9,280 patient visits made by persons aged 18 years or older in the 2006 National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey. Multivariate analyses compared obese and non-obese visits, stratified by sex, for duration of the visit and the number of medications mentioned at the visit. Results: Average duration of visit was higher among visits with patients determined to be obese. However, these differences were not considered significant after statistical testing. Visits made by obese female patients were significantly more likely to involve more than two prescription medications (OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.05 - 1.51) and visits made by obese male patients were significantly more likely to involve more than two prescription medications (OR 1.46, 95% CI 1.16 - 1.83) as compared to visits made by non-obese patients. Conclusion: Time spent with the provider was found to be greater among visits with obese patients, but not significantly different from visits with non-obese patients. The number of medications for each visit was found to be significantly greater for visits where the patient was considered to be obese. Increased time for the visit and increased numbers of medication for each visit translate into increased costs. These findings document the impact of obesity on our health care system and have great implications on medical care cost and planning.


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