Background Addressing the increasing prevalence of obesity is a global public health priority. Severe obesity (body mass index > 40) reduces life expectancy, due to its association with people developing complications (e.g. diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease), and greatly impairs quality of life. The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK provides specialist weight management services (SWMS) for people with severe obesity, but key uncertainties remain around patient access to and engagement with weight management services, as well as pathways beyond the service. Methods In this multiple methods study, using online forum data and semi-structured interviews, stakeholders’ experiences of delivering and receiving SWMS were explored. Using the web search engine Google with keywords and web address (URL) identifiers, relevant public online platforms were sourced with snowball sampling and search strings used to identify threads related to people’s experiences of accessing SWMS (n = 57). Interviews were conducted with 24 participants (nine patients, 15 staff), and data from all sources were analysed thematically using the framework approach. Results Six themes related to access to and engagement with SWMS emerged during data analysis: (1) making the first move, (2) uncertainty and confusion, (3) resource issues, (4) respect and understanding, (5) mode of delivery, and (6) desire for ongoing support. Conclusion There is a mixed and varied picture of SWMS provision across the UK. The service offered is based on local clinical decision making and available resources, resulting in a range of patient experiences and perspectives. Whilst service capacity issues and patient anxiety were seen as barriers to accessing care, peer support and positive clinical and group interactions (connectedness between individuals) were considered to increase engagement.



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The Patient - Patient-Centered Outcomes Research



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Peninsula Medical School