Interprofessional Relationships in the Field of Obesity: Data from Canada

Jenny Godley, Shelly Russell-Mayhew


Background: While it is generally acknowledged that an interprofessional approach is necessary to treat and prevent obesity, there have been few empirical studies examining the working relationships of professionals in the obesity field.

Methods: In this article social network analysis is used to examine the working relationships of 111 attendees, representing eleven different health professions, at the first National Obesity Summit in Canada. We assessed the extent of engagement in interprofessional relations across four activities: discussion, gathering information, providing care, and conducting research. We also examined attitudes toward interprofessional practice.

Findings: On average, respondents reported that approximately 75% of the people they work with are from other professions. Attitudes toward interprofessional practice were generally positive, and did not vary significantly across professions. Interestingly, attitudes were not related to actual interprofessional relations in our sample. In terms of work type, we found that respondents who were engaged in both clinical and research work had the largest networks and had the highest percentage of interprofessional contacts in their discussion and research networks.

Conclusions: Overall, the results suggest that within our sample of professionals working in the field of obesity, interprofessional practice is held in high regard as a concept. The results also suggest that members of professions that combine both research and clinical work are most likely to engage in interprofessional relationships. This article illustrates the utility of social network analysis to assess the extent of interprofessional relationships among those working in a particular healthcare field.


Interprofessional practice; Obesity; Social networks; Attitudes

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