VCU Study: Cost to Patients a Barrier to Counseling for Obesity and Smoking

Free counseling services for obesity and smoking cessation generate an overwhelmingly positive response, but a significant drop in participation occurs when there is a charge, according to a study conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University and the Urban Institute.

Research has shown that intensive counseling can positively impact both health concerns, however, the cost for the services is not typically covered by health insurance.

A study published in the March 2010 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, indicates that “policymakers and payers should support clinical–community partnerships and eliminate cost as a barrier to intensive smoking cessation and weight loss counseling.”

“Modifying health behaviors is daunting enough for patients and clinicians – cost can be the tipping point in their decision to forego the effort,” writes Alex H. Krist, M.D., assistant professor in the VCU Department of Family Medicine.

The article is “Patient Costs As a Barrier to Intensive Health Behavior Counseling” by Krist, Steven H Woolf, M.D., Robert E. Johnson, Ph.D., Stephen F Rothemich, M.D., Tina D Cunningham, Resa M. Jones, Ph.D., Diane B. Wilson, Ed.D., and Kelly J Devers, Ph.D. Read the journal’s news release here.

About VCU and VCU Medical Center

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools of Virginia Commonwealth University comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. For more, see