Individual, facility, and program factors affecting retention in a national weight management program

Bonnie Spring, Min Woong Sohn, Sara M. Locatelli, Sattar Hadi, Leila Kahwati, Frances M. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Background: High attrition is a common problem for weight loss programs and directly affects program effectiveness. Since 2006, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has offered obesity treatment to its beneficiaries through the MOVE! Weight Management Program for Veterans (MOVE!). An early evaluation of this program showed that attrition rate was high. The present study examines how individual, facility, and program factors relate to retention for participants in the on-site MOVE! group program. Methods. Data for all visits to MOVE! group treatment sessions were extracted from the VHA outpatient database. Participants were classified into three groups by their frequency of visits to the group program during a six month period after enrollment: early dropouts (1 - 3 visits), late dropouts (4 - 5 visits), and completers (6 or more visits). A generalized ordered logit model was used to examine individual, facility, and program factors associated with retention. Results: More than 60% of participants were early dropouts and 11% were late dropouts. Factors associated with retention were older age, presence of one or more comorbidities, higher body mass index at baseline, lack of co-payment requirement, geographic proximity to VA facility, addition of individual consultation to group treatment, greater program staffing, and regular, on-site physical activity programming. A non-completion rate of 74% for on-site group obesity treatment poses a major challenge to reducing the population prevalence of obesity within the VHA. Conclusions: Greater attention to individualized consultation, accessibility to the program, and facility factors including staffing and physical activity resources may improve retention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number363
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 15 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Health Services Research and Development Service (PPO 10-100-1; Min-Woong Sohn, Ph.D., Principal Investigator) and the National Institutes of Health (RC1DK087126 and R01 HL075451; Bonnie Spring, Ph.D., Principal Investigator). The paper presents the findings and conclusions of the authors; it does not necessarily represent the Department of Veterans Affairs or Health Services Research and Development Service nor the NIH. The corresponding author had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.


  • Health education
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Veterans
  • Veterans health
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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