Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

BMC Nursing


Springer Nature


School of Nursing and Midwifery




Edith Cowan University - Open Access Support Scheme 2020

This study was supported by health service funding from the New Zealand Ministry of Health, a Hawke’s Bay Medical Research Foundation grant-in-aid and a New Zealand Society for the Study of Diabetes research award. No funding body had any role in the design of the study and collection, analysis, and interpretation of data and in writing the manuscript.


Whitehead, L., Glass, C. C., Abel, S. L., Sharp, K., & Coppell, K. J. (2020). Exploring the role of goal setting in weight loss for adults recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes. BMC nursing, 19, article 67.



The management of prediabetes in the community setting is a global priority. We evaluated the feasibility of a 6-month multilevel practice nurse-led prediabetes dietary intervention which involved goal setting. The aim of this paper is to explore the weight loss goals and strategies reported by participants to achieve their weight loss goals as recorded by practice nurses, and report on factors that influenced dietary behaviours.


This study used a convergent mixed-methods design. A six-month pragmatic non-randomised pilot study with a qualitative process evaluation was conducted in two neighbouring provincial cities in New Zealand. A structured dietary intervention delivered by practice nurses was implemented in four practices in 2014–2016. Content analysis of the text and descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data.


One hundred and fifty seven people with prediabetes were enrolled (85 intervention, 72 control). The intervention group lost a mean 1.3 kg more than the control group (p < .0.001). The majority of the intervention group indicated either a high level of readiness (n = 42, 53%) or some readiness (n = 31, 39%) to make food changes. The majority of weight loss goals aligned with clinical guidelines (between 5 and 10% of body weight). While just over half (n = 47, 55%) demonstrated weight loss at the end of the six month period, the majority of participants did not achieve their predetermined weight loss goal (n = 78, 83%). Gender, ethnicity and budget were not related to weight loss at six months. Readiness to change and reported challenges to making dietary changes were related to weight loss at six months. Negative factors or set-backs included sporadic adherence to diet due to other health problems, change in context or environment and coping with ill health, most notably stress and low mood.


The data relating to weight loss and dietary goals provided insight into the challenges that people faced in making dietary changes for weight loss across a six month period. Simplifying goal setting to those goals with the greatest potential clinical impact or the greatest significance to the person, in a socially supportive environment, may increase the success of goal achievement.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.