Material and method
We interviewed eight people in the age group 20–48 years; five women and three men, in the period February–June 2021. Informants were recruited through notices (see the appendix) posted at educational institutions, training centres, GPs' offices and private agencies working with lifestyle changes. To secure young participants for the study, snowball sampling via informants' networks was also used (14).
At the time of interview, all informants had a body mass index (BMI) that is classified as overweight according to the World Health Organization (25–30 kg/m2); six were at the high end of the overweight index, while two were at the lower end. The informants had become overweight at a relatively young age, from their mid-teens and as young adults. Three of the informants had developed obesity as a young adult and had lost weight in the last 5–7 years, subsequently maintaining a stable weight. Various rural and urban areas throughout Norway were represented in the sample. The patients had contacted their GP for various physical and mental health issues, such as back and joint pain, sleep problems, lack of energy and other specific challenges. Some contacted their GP specifically about a problem with their weight.
The interview guide had an overall theme and suggestions for follow-up questions. All interviews started with the introductory question 'Can you describe your experiences with the subject of overweight in GP consultations?' This gave the informants the opportunity to tell their story and discuss topics that helped shed light on the issue. Follow-up questions were asked about their situation in relation to health, lifestyle and work – currently and in the future – and their thoughts on discussing overweight with their GP.
The interviews lasted 45–90 minutes. The interviewer actively encouraged the informants to express and expand on their own narratives. For the sake of variety, the interviewer asked follow-up questions about whether there were other situations in which the informants had had a different experience (14). Questions and words such as 'Can you tell me more?', 'What did you think?', 'How?' and 'In what way?' were used to gain a greater understanding. For the theme on how the informants wanted their GP to communicate with them, the interviewer used elements from role play ('If I were you and you were the doctor, how would you have proceeded?'). This produced concrete examples of situations and resulted in rich data on the topic and satisfactory information power for the sample (14).
The interview was recorded digitally and transcribed immediately afterwards so that the social and emotional tone remained fresh in the interviewer's mind. The transcribed material amounted to 162 single-spaced A4 pages of data. We analysed the material using systematic text condensation (14). Everything was thoroughly read first to get an overall impression. Meaning units were then identified and sorted into groups with similar content. Finally, we synthesised the material into an analytical text, with quotations illustrating each category. We used this method to describe the most relevant pages, common features and variations in the material. The categories were given new headings that summarised their content.
In qualitative research, there is a strong requirement for reflexivity in which researchers recognise their preconceptions and acknowledge their role in the research. All the authors are nurses and researchers, two with experience in the field. The study was approved by the Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics (reference number 203664) and the Norwegian Centre for Research Data. All the informants gave written informed consent. The material was anonymised before publication.