NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “Discussing Diabetes: The Essential Conversation That Could Change the Health of the Nation”, which examines the idea of technology-enabled between-visit engagement to help patients with the prevention and management of diabetes. Download it HERE!
For communication to really deliver results, it helps to understand the gaps between the perceptions of doctors and patients. Discussing Diabetes shows that when it comes to diabetes — and health issues related to weight in general — there are three broad areas where medical professionals and the general public are not yet on the same page. Bridging these gaps is the necessary starting place for preventing and treating diabetes in the United States.
Disconnect #1: The Weight of the Nation
There is general agreement that both childhood and adult obesity are major problems facing the United States. But once again, far more medical experts believe that Americans’ tendency to pile on the pounds is a problem.
So whereas six in ten (61 percent) of Americans think that adult obesity is a significant problem and slightly more (65 percent) believe childhood obesity is a challenge, nearly nine in ten medical professionals (86 percent) surveyed as part of Discussing Diabetes said that adult obesity is a problem. Even more (87 percent) felt childhood obesity was a serious challenge.
Discussing Diabetes also showed that physicians are more likely to believe their patients’ weight is a problem than the patients are themselves. As a result, nearly four in five (77 percent) doctors think that their patients’ weight has had a detrimental effect on their health. In contrast only two in five (38 percent) people believe that being overweight has negatively affected their own health. Even allowing for the fact that doctors tend to see more unhealthy than healthy individuals, that is still a significant gap.
There is a similar pattern when it comes to the specifics of diet and exercise. Although half (50 percent) of all people surveyed for Discussing Diabetes admitted that their health had been affected by not getting enough exercise, 70 percent of medical professionals report that lack of exercise has had a negative impact on patient health. Sixty-five percent of physicians also said that eating unhealthy foods had a negative impact on the health of their patients. But just over one third (36 percent) of their patients felt the same way.