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Publication Briefs

Study Identifies MOVE! Weight Management Program Characteristics Associated with Patient Retention

Weight management is a major dilemma: more than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese and, therefore, at increased risk for chronic health conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea. Retention is a frequent concern in structured weight-management programs, and drop-out rates of 30% to more than 50% are common. Though research has explored individual patient characteristics that influence retention, little attention has been given to the effect of program characteristics in the weight management literature. This study explored differences in program characteristics between high- and low-retention MOVE! programs within the VA healthcare system. Developed by VA's National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, MOVE! — a group-based weight management program — follows evidence-based obesity treatment guidelines, and takes a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to weight management. MOVE! is offered at 98% of 150 VA medical centers. Investigators in this study interviewed program coordinators (n=11) from both high-retention and low-retention MOVE! programs in order to identify factors affecting patient retention.


  • MOVE! program coordinators identified characteristics associated with patient retention, such as: provider knowledge of and referral to the program, reputation of the program within the medical facility, group meeting schedule (e.g. offering multiple meeting times), inclusion of physical activity in group meetings, and involvement by the MOVE! physician champion.
  • There were no differences in patient retention in regard to the use of introductory sessions, frequency of group meetings, and topics discussed during the meetings.
  • Coordinators at high-retention facilities were more likely to discuss efforts to improve retention.
  • Authors suggest that training for providers is needed to assist with referral decisions, and that program planners should consider incorporating physical activity into group meetings.


  • Random selection of facilities with MOVE! programs was not used in this study.
  • Investigators only interviewed program coordinators and no other program members.

This study was funded by HSR&D (PPO 10-100). Drs. Locatelli, Sohn, and Weaver are part of HSR&D's Center for Management of Complex Chronic Care, Hines IL. Dr. Hadi is the MOVE! physician champion at Hines VA Hospital.

PubMed Logo Locatelli SM, Sohn M-W, Spring B, Hadi S, and Weaver FM. Examining Factors Affecting Patient Retention in a Group Weight Management Program. Preventing Chronic Disease July 2012;9:E129.

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What are HSR Publication Briefs?

HSR requires notification by HSR-funded investigators about all articles accepted for publication. These journal articles are reviewed by HSR and publication briefs or summaries are written for a select number of articles that are then forwarded to VHA Central Office leadership to keep them informed about important findings or information. Articles to be summarized are selected by HSR based on timeliness of the findings, interest of leadership, or potential impact on the organization. Publication briefs are written for only a small number of HSR published articles. Visit the HSR citations database for a complete listing of HSR articles and presentations.

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