The lived experience of people with obesity: study protocol for a systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies

Emma Farrell, Marta Bustillo, Carel W. le Roux, Joe Nadglowski, Eva Hollmann, Deirdre McGillicuddy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Background: Obesity is a prevalent, complex, progressive and relapsing chronic disease characterised by abnormal or excessive body fat that impairs health and quality of life. It affects more than 650 million adults worldwide and is associated with a range of health complications. Qualitative research plays a key role in understanding patient experiences and the factors that facilitate or hinder the effectiveness of health interventions. This review aims to systematically locate, assess and synthesise qualitative studies in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of the lived experience of people with obesity. Methods: This is a protocol for a qualitative evidence synthesis of the lived experience of people with obesity. A defined search strategy will be employed in conducting a comprehensive literature search of the following databases: PubMed, Embase, PsycInfo, PsycArticles and Dimensions (from 2011 onwards). Qualitative studies focusing on the lived experience of adults with obesity (BMI >30) will be included. Two reviewers will independently screen all citations, abstracts and full-text articles and abstract data. The quality of included studies will be appraised using the critical appraisal skills programme (CASP) criteria. Thematic synthesis will be conducted on all of the included studies. Confidence in the review findings will be assessed using GRADE CERQual. Discussion: The findings from this synthesis will be used to inform the EU Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)-funded SOPHIA (Stratification of Obesity Phenotypes to Optimize Future Obesity Therapy) study. The objective of SOPHIA is to optimise future obesity treatment and stimulate a new narrative, understanding and vocabulary around obesity as a set of complex and chronic diseases. The findings will also be useful to health care providers and policy makers who seek to understand the experience of those with obesity. Systematic review registration: PROSPERO CRD42020214560.

Original languageEnglish
Article number181
Pages (from-to)181
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date21 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 21 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 875534. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA and T1D Exchange, JDRF and Obesity Action Coalition. The funding body had no role in the design of the study and will not have a role in collection, analysis and interpretation of data or in writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


  • Lived experience
  • Obesity
  • Obesity treatment
  • Patient experience
  • Qualitative


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