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Factors that determine patients considering medication for the disease of obesity: an IMI2 SOPHIA study.

OBJECTIVE: Obesity-related problems can now be managed with effective nutritional therapy, pharmacotherapy, and surgeries that achieve >10% weight loss. Assessing patient preferences, treatment choices, and factors affecting patients can improve treatment compliance and efficacy. Our aim was to identify factors affecting patient preference and subsequent choice of pharmacotherapy among those seeking treatment for obesity-related disorders.

METHODS: A participatory action study using purposeful sampling recruited 33 patients with obesity complications. They were referred to specialist clinics in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and chronic kidney disease. Sixteen males and seventeen females aged 18-70 years, with BMI > 35 kg/m2 were recruited. Before the interview, participants watched a 60-minute video explaining nutritional therapy, pharmacotherapy, and surgery in equipoise. Data were collected in semi-structured interviews; Reflective thematic analysis was used. This sub study focuses only on patients who expressed specific attitudes (positive or negative) towards pharmacotherapy.

RESULTS: Ten (30%) patients expressed a view on pharmacotherapy. Eight (24%) patients chose pharmacotherapy alone, whereas two (6%) patients chose pharmacotherapy combined with nutritional therapy. In this sub study focusing on pharmacotherapy, five themes were identified related to choosing whether or not to take medication: (1) attitudes towards pharmacotherapy, (2) attitudes toward size of obesity and its complications, (3) weighing the benefits and risks of treatment, (4) knowledge and reassurance of health professionals, and (5) costs associated with drug therapy.

CONCLUSION: The primary concerns regarding pharmacotherapy for intentional weight loss were efficacy, side effects, lifelong dosing, pharmacokinetics, and cost. Providing access to information about all the pharmacotherapies and the benefits is likely to result in greater penetrance of treatment.

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