Disadvantaged populations

Key messages

  • Weight management for disadvantaged patients in primary health care may be more effective if it is tailored to health literacy             
  • Multi-disciplinary care needs to be organised across the 5As (assess, advise, agree, assist and arrange) to provide effective management of overweight and obesity.

Research questions

  1. How can weight loss be achieved and maintained in Indigenous and disadvantaged individuals with low health literacy? 
  2. How can multi-disciplinary interventions of sufficient intensity and duration to achieve clinically significant weight loss and maintenance over 18 months be provided for at risk individuals in PHC (including by referral)? 


Assessment and brief interventions are feasible for at risk adults in primary health care but referrals are infrequent due to numerous barriers including availability, transport, coordination and many PHC providers lack time and skills to provide interventions of sufficient intensity themselves. Information, education and support are less frequently received by patients with low health literacy and are less effective. 

Stream 2 projects

1. Supporting Teamwork for Equity in Preventive Practice (STEPP), which have evaluated chronic disease prevention interventions in general practices. STEPP is the forerunner of the BMWGP trial.

2. Systematic review of health literacy interventions for weight management in primary health care, which helped inform the BMWGP trial.

3. Better Management of Weight in General Practice (BMWGP) is a trial of an intervention with practice nurses in general practices in disadvantaged areas. BMWGP has three sub-studies: 


Professor Mark Harris, Director of COMPaRE-PHC and Stream 2 and 3 leader: m.f.harris@unsw.edu