Doctors and nurses' weight biases harm overweight patients

  1. 0
    Here is a link to the L.A. Times Article:

    Doctors and nurses' weight biases harm overweight patients -

    I was interested in what nurses they interviewed. While I know nurses have patients they'd rather not deal with (though they will anyways), to say you wouldn't even want to touch someone just seems like a bad idea and is asking for someone to sue.

    Any experiences with nurses that share this view?

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  2. 28 Comments...

  3. 26
    Having read some past threads on here I can't say I'm surprised. There was a discussion a few weeks ago where an obese patient was referred to as "slothful" and "gluttonous". I said it then and I'll say it now....... anorexic people who weigh 80 pounds are seen as sick patients who need help but morbidity obese patients who weigh 500 pounds are seen as noncompliant people who just lack willpower. Obviously both type of patient have an EATING DISORDER and need physical and psychiatric intervention. But how easy is it to ask for help if your health care provider doesn't even want to touch you?
    Skips, Angie O'Plasty, RN, tvccrn, and 23 others like this.
  4. 19
    As a person who was "slightly" overweight and just needed to lose a few pounds to someone who hs gained ALOT of weight with the daily ingestion of high dose steroids...........I definately treated differently now.......I am treated with distain and comtempt.........It's very sad. So now I am not only sick and cannot walk.......people talk down to me and treat me like I cannot understand the spoken word because I am fat. If I wasn't depressed before because of the ravages of my disease........I sure am because of the poor,impolite and rude behaviors of others who feel obligated to vent their opinion on anyone they feel is inferior to them or somehow lacking.......very sad for them.......Frankly I try to ignore them
    Last edit by Esme12 on Dec 15, '10
  5. 8
    I am a healthcare provider and I am also considered obese. I do not feel bad about myself and do not consider my obesity related to any disorder. I gained a alot of weight over the past 10 years and I need to lose the extra pounds if I want to maintain my health. MY HEALTH is my responsiblity. Too often we give people excuses not to try to do what is right. Now if someone said to me you are obese I would try to lose weight. I might not be successful but I will try. But often when I say that to patient they are offended. I tell them what they should do to lose weight. We as Americans make to many excuses to do whatever we want. It is not the anyone fault if you are overweight or obese but your own. When we all became RESPONSIBLE. WE WILL HAVE A HEALTHY COUNTRY
  6. 10
    That is very sad. Although I don't consciously feel negativity toward overweight individuals, this discussion gives me pause to consider if I may act differently with obese patients subconsciously. Being an average size without really trying, I consider myself lucky that I don't have a problem with weight. If I did, I would hope that the people caring for me would treat me with the same respect a thin person would get. In the future I will be more mindful of how I may subconsciously treat overweight people. I truly believe all people deserve respect and compassion no matter the circumstances.
    tvccrn, mustlovepoodles, wooh, and 7 others like this.
  7. 3
    From the article:

    "Some healthcare professionals actually believe that stigma and shame can be used to help motivate patients to lose weight."

    "My siblings just wanted to torture me and that they did. But they, unlike doctors and nurses, weren't under any sort of ethical or professional mandate to be kind."

    Are there really a majority of doctors that believe mentally abusing someone will motivate them into weight loss?

    And do you, as a nurse, feel that you have 'an ethical or professional mandate to be kind'?

    Weight is such a sensitive subject for women, what would be the best way to address their health issues without hurting their feelings? Or is it just simply the truth hurts?
    talaxandra, Quark09, and Esme12 like this.
  8. 24
    Quote from lrobinson5
    From the article:
    And do you, as a nurse, feel that you have 'an ethical or professional mandate to be kind'?

    Weight is such a sensitive subject for women, what would be the best way to address their health issues without hurting their feelings? Or is it just simply the truth hurts?
    I once worked in a family practice office where this issue came up. The doctor was a very slender woman, but she did seem very sensitive toward her patients who were obese. We once had a family come in that were all too large to sit in the chairs with armrests. I was trying to room the patient and was suddenly embarrassed to realize the problem, so I had the patient sit on the exam table to get her vitals and then told the doctor.

    She spoke spoke with the patient for some time and referred her to a specialized weight-loss clinic. She found the woman very receptive to help with her weight, but was concerned that it needed to be approached in a way that the woman did not feel any loss of dignity. Then she had more chairs ordered for the office that were larger and did not have armrests so that in the future, patients and family of larger size would feel comfortable in the office. If people are not treated well, they aren't motivated to become healthier, they just feel rejected by the medical community and are less likely to seek help in the future.
    finn55, HappydayRn, leslie :-D, and 21 others like this.
  9. 2
    My College of Nursing has pioneered research in bariatric nursing and the barriers and challenges that this special patient population presents to receiving safe, effective care (for both the patient and the nursing staff).
    Elvish and Quark09 like this.
  10. 4
    I've been the recipient of painful remarks by health-care pros who didn't even know me. In one year I gained nearly 60 lbs due to steroids taken for extremely bad asthma problems. Sixty pounds! I was 39, and trying to get pregnant. A partner at the OB clinic told me to lose weight first in a voice that dripped with disdain. I cried on my way out, and complained to my insurance company. I should have called his boss.
  11. 2
    I think that in some instances, the demeanor of the patient can affect the approach that healthcare providers use. In another thread (I believe the one discussing who should be responsible for non-compliant patient's healthcare) a poster remarked that her patient was not only obese, but having family sneak in food, being very demanding, etc. I tend to think that obese patients need gentle, non-judgmental education on their lifestyle choices, but it's difficult to remain that way when the patient is acting the way that poster had described.

    Personally, I have to mentally prepare myself when dealing with psychiatric patients - it's not a field I would choose to go into due to this. However, no matter what area I work in, I'm going to come into contact with them (just like with overweight/obese patients). If I go into the interaction with the attitude that they're just trying to get attention, being manipulative, or trying to "work" the all-mighty "system," then I will get nowhere with them.
    mustlovepoodles and wooh like this.

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