Background: Research exploring the impact of weight stigma in healthcare has typically focused on attitudes towards and impact on patient care. Sparse research has explored weight stigma towards healthcare professionals (HCPs). This study aimed to examine the influence of HCPs weight status on recall of medical advice (RA), and attitudes towards HCPs (AHCP) measures.
Methods: After receiving ethical clearance, this between-subjects study was hosted on QualtricsTM. Four videos were recorded, two with a male actor and two with a female actor. Actors delivered either the NHS weight management advice assuming the role of a dietitian or the NHS stress management advice as a psychologist. We modified the actors body size using digital compositing, doubling the number of videos. Thus, there were 8 video (conditions) in total; 4 with and 4 without obesity. We hypothesized that participants who viewed the male dietitian or psychologist without obesity would report more positive AHCP and/or recall more advice in contrast to participants who viewed the female dietitian or psychologist with obesity. A total of 237 participants were randomly allocated into conditions, taking the role of patients. They viewed the videos and responded to measures assessing RA, AHCP, attitudes towards people with obesity, and demographic questions. We analysed our data using dummy regression models exploring whether AHCP or amount of RA differs between conditions while controlling for confounding variables.
Results: Before analysis we conducted psychometric evaluation of RA and AHCP measures producing weighted and factor scores respectively. We observed differences between genders and weight status on AHCP measure; however, the effect on RA was negligible. Differences at P < 0.05 were observed between the female and male psychologists with obesity (gender); female and male dietitian with obesity (gender); and male dietitian with and without obesity (weight status). The attitudes were more favourable towards female than male HCPs (specifically Compassion and Impression of HCPs) and less favourable towards HCPs without than with obesity (specifically Impression of HCPs).
Conclusions: This study represents one of the first experiments to assess weight stigma towards healthcare professionals, which can impact patient-practitioner relationships and patient compliance.
Keywords: Weight stigma, healthcare, attitudes
12 Sep 2019 - 13 Sep 2019