AHRQ Research Informs Obesity Treatment Recommendations from American College of Physicians

Comparative Effectiveness
March 2006

The American College of Physicians (ACP) used AHRQ's Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 103, Pharmacological and Surgical Treatment of Obesity, to develop ACP's clinical practice guideline on the pharmacological and surgical treatment of obesity. Prior to the release of this evidence report, the ACP had no such guideline.

The ACP, along with the American Society of Internal Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics, nominated this topic to AHRQ with an eye toward addressing the pharmacological and surgical impact from an internist's perspective. Based on the evidence report, the ACP published two background papers-one focusing on the surgical and the other on the pharmacological treatment of obesity. These background papers were used by the ACP to develop its current clinical practice guideline.

ACP Senior Medical Associate, Amir Qaseem, MD, who is responsible for the Clinical Practice Guidelines Program at ACP, noted that these guidelines include specific recommendations to aid internists in their clinical practice and provide the evidence that is currently available. The evidence report "was extremely important and useful in writing the guidelines," Qaseem explained. "It would have been extremely difficult to develop this guideline without AHRQ's evidence report due to the time and resources necessary to gather and analyze the available evidence base appropriately."

Although the ACP did not conduct any formal evaluation on the effectiveness of the evidence report or the ensuing ACP guideline, Qaseem observed that both the evidence report and ACP's guideline have increased awareness of current pharmacological and surgical treatments for obesity. He noted that he has "spoken to many physicians and different organizations, and we have received very positive remarks just in terms of this guideline.they all found it really useful and invaluable in terms of evidence, because there are so many changes in pharmaceutical treatments for obesity recently."

The new guideline is being disseminated through ACP's Web site (http://www.acponline.org) where physicians, internists, members, and non-members have free access. Since the publication of the background paper in 2005, the new guideline and corresponding recommendations have received between 55,000 and 60,000 page views. In addition, the guideline and corresponding recommendations have reached an audience of nearly 2.6 million through articles distributed via print circulation and an estimated 9.1 million viewers through news stories broadcast on more than 165 television stations across the country. "It's probably one of the most popular guidelines that we worked on," states Qaseem.

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
AHRQ Product(s): Evidence Report
Topics(s): Obesity
Geographic Location: National
Implementer: The American College of Physicians
Date: 03/01/2006

Pharmacological and Surgical Treatment of Obesity, Summary. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment Number 103. July 2004. AHRQ Publication No. 04-E028-1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/obesphsum.htm

Page last reviewed October 2014