Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Though weight bias has been acknowledged in the health field, it is less understood if and how weight bias affects quality of care. The purpose of this study was to determine if weight bias exhibited by healthcare professionals (HCPs) impacts quality of healthcare provided to obese individuals. HCPs (n=220; 88% female, 87% nurses) in the Midwest region of the United States were recruited to complete an online survey. Participants completed the Attitude Towards Obese Persons scale (ATOP) to assess weight bias and responded to hypothetical patient scenarios to evaluate quality of care. A median split was calculated for ATOP scores to divide participants into high or low weight bias groups. Within these groups, thematic analysis was used to uncover themes in quality of care based upon participants’ responses to scenarios. Results revealed overall that diet and exercise modifications were the most common treatment methods. HCPs in the high weight bias group gave more specific diet and exercise recommendations and offered health advice regarding weight loss. Additionally, in both weight bias groups, obese patients were started on pharmaceutical therapies sooner. A word count revealed “educate” and “encourage” were used in similar frequencies (69-73%) when counseling patients; however, in the high weight bias group, these words were used less frequently (25%) for obese patients. The findings of this study suggest a need to educate HCPs on the importance of empathy and compassion when providing treatment to all patients, regardless of weight, to improve patient outcomes.
Seymour, Justine Leigh, "Do Healthcare Professionals with High Weight Biases Provide Different Quality of Care to Obese Compared to Normal Weight Patients?" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 709.