Impact of weight bias and stigma on quality of care and outcomes for patients with obesity

S. M. Phelan, D. J. Burgess, M. W. Yeazel, W. L. Hellerstedt, J. M. Griffin, M. van Ryn

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

282 Scopus citations

Abstract

The objective of this study was to critically review the empirical evidence from all relevant disciplines regarding obesity stigma in order to (i) determine the implications of obesity stigma for healthcare providers and their patients with obesity and (ii) identify strategies to improve care for patients with obesity. We conducted a search of Medline and PsychInfo for all peer-reviewed papers presenting original empirical data relevant to stigma, bias, discrimination, prejudice and medical care. We then performed a narrative review of the existing empirical evidence regarding the impact of obesity stigma and weight bias for healthcare quality and outcomes. Many healthcare providers hold strong negative attitudes and stereotypes about people with obesity. There is considerable evidence that such attitudes influence person-perceptions, judgment, interpersonal behaviour and decision-making. These attitudes may impact the care they provide. Experiences of or expectations for poor treatment may cause stress and avoidance of care, mistrust of doctors and poor adherence among patients with obesity. Stigma can reduce the quality of care for patients with obesity despite the best intentions of healthcare providers to provide high-quality care. There are several potential intervention strategies that may reduce the impact of obesity stigma on quality of care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-326
Number of pages8
JournalObesity Reviews
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Keywords

  • Delivery of health care
  • Obesity
  • Social stigma
  • Stereotyping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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