Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)


Physical Therapy

First Advisor

Susan H.N. Jeno


Obesity -- prevention & control; Obesity -- therapy; Weight Loss


Background and Purpose. Many different health professionals are involved in the prevention and treatment of obesity. The APTA believes that physical therapists should be in a leadership role among other health care providers in providing patient education and instruction regarding physical activity. The purpose of this study was to determine current practice trends among physical therapists in the state of North Dakota relating to patients who are overweight or obese.

Subjects and Methods. Three hundred surveys were mailed to randomly selected physical therapists licensed in the State of North Dakota. The survey consisted of23 questions concerning level of training, referral rates, comfort level in treating patients who are overweight or obese, and interventions provided to these patients.

Results. Of the 300 surveys sent out, 136 (45.3%) were completed and returned for inclusion in this study. Those physical therapists who indicated they had advanced training did not have significantly higher comfort level in treating patients who are overweight or obese. Similarly there was no significant difference between advanced training and discussion or recording of weight status. Seventy-five percent of therapists surveyed had not received any referrals for weight management in the past year. Appearance, weight/height measurements, body mass index (BMI), and patient opinion were the most commonly used methods to assess weight status. The most frequently used interventions included patient education, aerobic exercise, and strength training.

Discussion and Conclusion. Physical therapists have appropriate education to identify at-risk patients and provide intervention to improve weight status, but are not currently active in promoting themselves as members of the weight management team. Additional training may be necessary in the areas of objective methods of assessing weight status and weight management programs for patients with other co-morbidities.