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Questionnaire helps to predict weight loss success

Social medical practitioners at the Centre for Public Health at the MedUni Vienna have developed a measuring tool.

(Vienna, 4th November 2013) To lose weight and keep it off, it is important for individuals to keep to the behavioural changes they have made. Social medical practitioners at the Centre for Public Health at the MedUni Vienna have now developed a measuring tool that allows the success of weight loss efforts to be predicted.

The tool takes the form of a Compass questionnaire, which measures patients' compliance (adherence), i.e. their desire and motivation to take part in the programme, to implement the recommended changes in behaviour long term and also to keep to them.

The questionnaire’s effectiveness has already been proven in a previous study at the MedUni Vienna involving patients with high blood pressure. “The Compass delivers precisely the information required to be able to give patients the best possible support for mobilising their personal resources to achieve success,” explains Rudolf Schoberberger from the Institute of Social Medicine at the MedUni Vienna's Centre for Public Health.

The Compass questionnaire comprises a checklist of twelve questions that help the doctor determine whether the patient will comply with the recommended behavioural changes, whether the patient has doubts about their new regime, whether the patient has established trust and also whether they have not understood the suggestions and are consequently uncertain.

Social medicine practitioner Gabriele Böhm, co-author of the study: “Among 253 participants of the "Slim Without Dieting" weight reduction programme, the Compass questionnaire proved to be an excellent tool for predicting weight loss success. The instrument is also useful for predicting areas that represent weak points for this group.” The Compass questionnaire, just like the points of a compass, provides information on patients’ Normal behaviour (N), Organisation (E), Social support (S) and Knowledge (W). Therapists in charge of the “Slim Without Dieting” programme (SWD) are therefore able to estimate early on which participants will require additional support in order to be successful.

The results in more detail: Individuals who fared well in the Compass questionnaire had good chances of losing weight. Patients whose answers ranked above the mean compliance level lost almost six kilograms in a year and also maintained their weight. Those who fared poorly in the questionnaire achieved virtually no weight loss or exited the programme early.

The social medicine practitioners at the MedUni Vienna are keen to demonstrate the possibilities of “compliance diagnostics” evidenced by this study. Says Schoberberger: “It’s also about motivating therapists to address patients' personal needs in more detail.”

The Compass questionnaire, which is also addressed in the Medicine curriculum at the Medical University of Vienna, is available in German and English and therapists or doctors can request a copy here: Institute of Social Medicine, Gabriela Böhm ( or Rudolf Schoberberger (, or call +43/1/40160 - 34888.

Service: Nutrients
“An Instrument to Measure Adherence to Weight Loss Programs: The Compliance Praxis Survey-Diet (COMPASS-Diet)”. M. Janda, D. Zeidler, G.Böhm, R. Schoberberger. Nutrients 2013, 5, 3828-3838; doi:10.3390/nu5103828.