Obesity is becoming a widely known health disparity, affecting over 300 million people worldwide. Obesity is associated with multiple comorbidities, many of which are categorized as leading causes of death in the United States. Citizens in rural areas of the United States are the most affected populations in comparison to urban and suburban areas. Health care organizations in these rural areas are often not able to treat obese patients effectively. The purpose of this study was to determine Critical Access Hospitals in Northwest Kansas’ awareness and resources available to manage and address overweight patients. The project followed a nonexperimental study design that utilized both qualitative and descriptive analysis. The sample consisted of 23 CAHs within the Northwest Kansas Health Alliance under the umbrella of Hays Medical Center. Phone calls were made to initiate contact with CAH leaders, an electronic survey was deployed, and follow-up communication occurred if required. Descriptive data was used to analyze survey responses. The project found only 3 out of 12 facilities have formal weight loss programs; 6 out of 12 have access to a dietician at least one day a month; 8 out of 12 have access to personal trainers within 60 miles; 100% of facilities are prescribing weight loss medication. CAHs lack formal weight loss programs and are aware of limitations in starting these programs. In conclusion, CAHs lack resources and necessary guidance to initiate weight loss programs. CAH leaders can articulate limitations, but note time and financial burdens as reasons to not undertake individualized weight loss programs. Obesity in rural health care is identified as a significant health concern that aligns with the national focus to reduce obesity rates. This survey-based project could be easily replicated in other areas of rural medicine. The project aimed to provide CAH leaders with data and initiative to work toward developing formal weight loss programs, but there are implications for further research to achieve these goals.
© The Author(s)
Utley, Alicia and Hober, Christine, "Weight Management in Rural Western Kansas Primary Care" (2020). 2020 SACAD Entrants. 85.