Weight Bias & Stigma > Health Care Providers
Weight bias exists in health care settings, causing harm for patients who have a higher body weight. Research studies show that patients with obesity face biased attitudes from physicians, nurses, psychologists, dietitians, medical students, and even professionals who specialize in obesity. Some professionals within these groups perceive patients with obesity to be lazy, lacking in willpower, unmotivated to improve health, and noncompliant with treatment. When patients feel judged or stigmatized about their weight, this can lead to lower trust of their healthcare providers, poorer treatment outcomes, and avoidance of future health care.
The Rudd Center has developed free, online educational resources for health care providers to help improve the quality of care for patients with obesity and reduce weight bias in clinical practice.
For clinicians working with patients who have obesity, this resource provides an overview of evidence of the harmful health consequences of weight bias, and summarizes strategies to improve provider-patient communication, and increase awareness of personal biases that could unintentionally compromise patient care.
The Rudd Center has created two online learning modules for the World Obesity Federation to further educate providers about the consequences of weight bias for health and healthcare. These modules highlight the importance of addressing weight bias in broader health communication both within and outside of the medical setting.
The Rudd Center has produced an educational video to educate healthcare providers about weight bias.
Research evidence suggests that using this video as an educational intervention may be effective in helping to reduce stigmatizing attitudes among students and future healthcare professionals. Specifically, studies published in Obesity Facts and Family Medicine demonstrates the effectiveness of this video in reducing negative attitudes and weight bias among trainees in health-related disciplines. Specifically, researchers found that trainees who viewed the video and engaged in a discussion increased their beliefs that obesity is caused by multiple factors (and not simply under personal control), and decreased negative stereotypes about patients with obesity.
For Pediatric Providers
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH) has launched a free accredited training series for pediatric and adolescent healthcare providers. This online series, created by the Rudd Center’s Dr. Rebecca Puhl, offers evidence-based strategies for compassionate, targeted weight management and obesity prevention in girls. Physicians, doctors of osteopathy, dietitians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurses will earn 1 CME/CEU credit for completing each 1-hour training module. Part 1 of the series consists of two training modules:
- Improving Care for Adolescent Girls: The Importance of Addressing Weight Bias
- Child and Adolescent Weight Management: Guidelines, Guidance, and Goals
American Academy of Pediatrics Policy Statement Addressing Weight Stigma:
- Promoting a Positive Office Environment for Patients with Obesity
- Checklist for Assessing the Office Environment
- Motivational Interviewing Strategies
- Motivational Interview Example Scripts
- Assessing Weight Bias with Validated Measures
- Pediatricians: How to Talk to Parents
- How to Have a Productive Conversation about Weight Bias
For Your Patients
- How to be Informed and Assertive
- How to Talk with Your Doctor
- Talking to your Doctor about Your Weight
- If You Are the Target of Weight Bias
- Weight-related Conversations Knowledge Translations Casebook: This resource is called "Fostering positive weight-related conversations: Evidence of real-life learnings from the heart of care. A Knowledge Translation (KT) Casebook. This practical guide is designed to help healthcare professionals have positive weight-related conversations with children and their families.
- Why Weight? A Guide to Discussing Obesity & Health With Your Patients: Produced by The Strategies to Overcome and Prevent (STOP) Obesity Alliance, this tool equips physicians with skills for building a safe, trusting environment with patients and facilitating productive conversations about weight.