Uni program aims to bust a gut

Could “medical yarn ups” be the answer to the battle of the bulge?

With obesity the second highest contributor to disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people behind tobacco, NSW researchers have examined the effectiveness of shared medical appointments and say they could help.

Instead of a one-on-one, 10-minute consultation with a GP, patients attend a 60 to 90-minute shared appointment where they have the support of up to 11 other patients as well as medical advice.

Associate Professor John Stevens, of Lismore’s Southern Cross University, said trials of the shared sessions have proven popular, with participant numbers doubling by word of mouth.

He said shared appointments could be beneficial for people with chronic disease or who are overweight or obese and who need more support and information than can be provided in a short appointment.

“It’s a marvelous opportunity to change the way we’ve done things in the past,” he said.

The findings were reported in The Medical Journal of Australia this month.

In the shared appointments, separate groups of men and women are overseen by an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander co-ordinator and a trained facilitator in conjunction with a GP, nurse or Aboriginal health worker.

“MYUs offer a culturally sustainable model not only for the delivery of health care generally to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people but also for the delivery of specific programs such as weight control and smoking cessation,” the report said.

The weight control program used by the researchers was based on Gut Busters, which has been used in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities since the ‘90s, they said.

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