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Addressing weight stigma in clinical practice

Learn about addressing weight stigma in clinical practice

Evidence has shown that a wide range of clinicians exhibit weight stigma including doctors9, exercise scientists10, dietitians11 and physiotherapists3, 12. Of particular interest is research in which explicit and implicit weight attitudes were collected from clinicians and researchers attending the opening session of an international obesity conference, which showed that even clinicians and researchers whose career emphasised the management of obesity demonstrated significant pro-thin attitudes and anti-fat implicit bias13.

It is important to recognise that as a clinician you are not immune to weight bias. Consider these key recommendations informed by Dr Jenny Setchell’s work investigating weight stigma in the physiotherapy profession3, 12. Full works are available:

  • Setchell et al. 2014. Physiotherapists demonstrate weight stigma: a cross-sectional survey of Australian physiotherapists. Journal of Physiotherapy:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25084637/

  • Setchell et al. 2015. Weight stigma in physiotherapy practice: Patient perceptions of interactions with physiotherapists. Manual Therapy:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25920342/

1. Understand the complexity of weight and manifestations of weight stigma
2. Develop a more nuanced appreciation and understanding of how patients who have obesity might feel in the clinical setting
3. Use patient-centered considerations to engage with patients in discussions about weight

These recommendations are relevant to all areas of healthcare.

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EduWeight: Weight Management for Adult Patients with Chronic Disease

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