Weight bias is something many patients with obesity experience. Surprisingly, it is not general bias from the general public that can hurt these patients in the long-term; rather, the prejudice they experience from medical professionals can have drastic consequences.
When patients do not feel their caregiver is connecting and listening to them, they will seek another caregiver. When patients rotate through health care providers, they do not receive continuity in their care. This disrupts their preventative care, long-term care, and health goals.
To be fair, a medical professional would never think about making a joke about weight or using the term “fat” with a patient. However, there less obvious things patients may experience that could be biased. An office setting itself could be uncomfortable. For example, the waiting room furniture could be too small, or the equipment may not be considerate of patients with obesity. Blood pressure cuffs, exam tables, gowns, scales, etc., can be ill-fitting, which makes patients uncomfortable and, therefore, less likely to open up to their health care provider. Remember, for these patients, taking their weight can extremely stressful, so setting matters. Having patients weigh-in in a private area of your office, as opposed to an area where other patients are within sight, can go a long way to ease anxiety.
So what can health care providers do to make sure all patients feel comfortable in an emotional and physical environment that is empathetic to their needs? How do you eliminate shame and bias to makes the journey of a patient with obesity successful? In this free webinar, Dr. Jen Caudle, one of the most visible physicians in America, presents “Fat Shaming: Undressing the Body Bias in Medicine,” a critically important topic for all health care providers who treat patients who are overweight or have been diagnosed with obesity.