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Obesity is a growing health concern in Kuwait. Obesity has been identified as a key risk factor for many chronic diseases including hypertension, dyslipidemia and type 2 diabetes mellitus. It has been shown that community pharmacists' involvement is associated with successful weight management in developed countries. This study was conducted to investigate the role of community pharmacists in obesity counseling, and to identify the barriers to counseling in Kuwait.
A descriptive cross-sectional study involved 220 community pharmacies that were selected via stratified and systematic random sampling. A pretested self-administered questionnaire collected information on frequency and comfort level with obesity counseling, and the perceived effectiveness of four aspects of obesity management (diet and exercise, prescribed antiobesity medications, diet foods, and nonprescription products and dietary supplements). Information on perceived confidence in achieving positive outcomes as a result of counseling and barriers to counseling was also collected. Descriptive and Spearman’ r analysis were conducted using SPSS version 17. Responses with Likert scale rating 1(low score) to 5 (high score) and binary choices (yes/no) were presented as mean (SD) and (95% CI), respectively.
The response rate was 93.6%. The overall mean (SD) responses indicated that pharmacists counseled obese patients sometimes to most of the time, 3.67 (1.19) and were neutral to comfortable with counseling about aspects of obesity management, 3.77 (1.19). Respondents perceived obesity management aspects to be somewhat effective, 3.80 (1.05). Of the four aspects of obesity management, diet and exercise, and diet foods were the highest ranked in terms of frequency of counseling, comfort level and perceived effectiveness. Pharmacists were neutral to confident in achieving positive outcomes as a result of obesity counseling, 3.44 (1.09). Overall mean responses of counseling obese patients by pharmacists were positively correlated with their perceived comfort with counseling and perceived effectiveness of obesity management aspects. The most anticipated barriers to obesity counseling were lack of patient awareness about pharmacists' expertise in counseling 76.2% (95% CI: 69.7-81.7) and pharmacists’ opinions that obese patients lack willpower and are non-adherent to weight reduction interventions 71.8% (95% CI: 65.1-77.8).
Strengths, weaknesses and barriers related to obesity counseling by pharmacists in Kuwait were identified, and suggestions were provided to strengthen that role.