Knowledge, attitudes and practices of medical staff towards obesity management in patients with spinal cord injuries: an International survey of four western European countries

Type Article

Journal Article


S. Wong; J. van Middendorp; M. Belci; I. van Nes; E. Roels; É. Smith; S. P. Hirani; A. Forbes

Year of publication



Spinal Cord








OBJECTIVE: To (1) examine the opinions of medical staff working in spinal cord injury (SCI) centres (SCICs); (2) evaluate their knowledge, attitudes and practices towards obesity prevention and management; (3) report the number of beds and dietitians available at each SCIC. METHODS: A 37-item questionnaire was sent to 23 SCICs in the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland between September 2012 and January 2013. RESULTS: Eighteen SCICs returned the questionnaires for analysis. All respondents stated that they had an interest in obesity treatment but only 2.3% of the respondents received training in obesity management. Sixty-one percent of staff did not consider body mass index (BMI) to be appropriate for use in SCI patients and subsequently less than half of the respondents use BMI routinely. The majority of respondents reported that they are confident in dealing with overweight (74.5%) and obese (66.1%) SCI adults, less than half (44.1%) are confident in treating overweight and obese SCI children. Respondents also indicated the need for nationally adopted guidelines and a lack of physical activity provision. There were 17.5 whole-time equivalent (WTE) dietitians recorded in 22 SCICs, equivalent to 47.8 beds per WTE dietitians (range 10-420). Non-UK SCIC dietitians are significantly better resourced than in UK SCICs (beds per WTE dietitian: 36 vs 124, P=0.035). CONCLUSION: Medical staff expressed the need to participate in obesity prevention and management. Appropriate training should be considered for all medical staff and the development of specific weight management guidelines and dietetic provision should be considered.