Sunday, February 23, 2014

Obese Patients Who Feel Judged by Doctors Less Likely to Lose Weight | Psych Central News

Obese Patients Who Feel Judged by Doctors Less Likely to Lose Weight

 By

Associate News Editor



Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
on February 23, 2014

Obese Patients Who Feel Judged by Doctors Less Likely to Lose WeightObese
patients who believe their doctors are critical of their weight are
more likely to attempt to get fit but less likely to succeed, according
to a new study by Johns Hopkins researchers.


“Negative encounters can prompt a weight loss attempt, but our study
shows they do not translate into success,” says study leader Kimberly A.
Gudzune, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor in the Division of
General Internal Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of
Medicine.


“Ideally, we need to talk about weight loss without making patients
feel they are being judged. It’s a fine line to walk, but if we can do
it with sensitivity, a lot of patients would benefit.”


Prior to the study, the researchers suspected that negative attitudes
and weight stigma may be limiting the effectiveness of advice from
primary care providers to their obese patients.


To test this idea, the researchers conducted a national
Internet-based survey of 600 adults with a body mass index of 25 or more
who see their primary care doctors on a regular basis. One of the
questions was, “In the last 12 months, did you ever feel that this
doctor judged you because of your weight?” Twenty one percent of
participants said yes.


Furthermore, 96 percent of those who felt judged said they attempted
to lose weight in the previous year, compared to 84 percent who did not.
However, only 14 percent of those who felt judged and who also
discussed weight loss with their doctor lost 10 percent or more of their
body weight, while 20 percent who did not feel judged and also
discussed weight loss shed a similar amount.


Overall, just two-thirds of participants reported that their doctors talked about weight loss.


“Many doctors avoid the conversation because they don’t want to make
anyone feel bad, worrying they’ll create a rift with their patients if
they even bring it up. But that is not in the patients’ best interest in
terms of their long-term health,” Gudzune says.


Gudzune, whose own practice focuses on obesity, believes that doctors
should be trained in ways to bring up the topic while also making the
patient feel understood and supported.


She says that it helps to start with smaller weight loss goals, such
as a 10 percent reduction. A larger long-term goal of 70 or 100 pounds,
for example, can be a setup for frustration and failure when tackled all
at once.


“We don’t want to overwhelm them,” she says. “If we are their
advocates in this process — and not their critics — we can really help
patients to be healthier through weight loss.”


Other Johns Hopkins researchers who contributed to this study include
Wendy L. Bennett, M.D., M.P.H.; Lisa A. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H.; and Sara
N. Bleich, Ph.D.


The study is published in the journal Preventive Medicine.


Source:  Johns Hopkins

Obese man and his doctor photo by shutterstock.

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