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Monday, September 16, 2013

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity.

By Kevin B. O'Reilly
Originally posted September 2, 2013

Here is an excerpt:

Because few physicians, medical students or others will admit openly to bias, researchers have developed a tool to plumb their unconscious attitudes. The Weight Implicit Association Test asks participants to pair images of “thin” or “fat” people with negative or positive words. The faster the test-taker links the type of person to a negative attribute, the stronger the unconscious negative attitude. The validated survey tool has been used to measure implicit biases related to race, age, gender, sexuality and other areas.

The vast majority of the people who take the Web-based test exhibit a strong preference for thin people and associate the fat people with negative words, and nearly 2,300 physicians scored about the same as the general populace, said a study published Nov. 7, 2012, in PLoS One. A survey of 620 U.S. doctors found that more than half viewed obese patients as “awkward, unattractive, ugly and noncompliant with therapy,” said a study published October 2003 in Obesity Research.

The entire article is here.
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