Are Medical Students Aware of Their Anti-obesity Bias?
ABSTRACT PURPOSE: Anti-obesity prejudices affect the quality of care obese individuals receive. The authors sought to determine the prevalence of weight-related biases among medical students and whether they were aware of their biases. METHOD: Between 2008 and 2011, the authors asked all third-year medical students at Wake Forest School of Medicine to complete the Weight Implicit Association Test (IAT), a validated measure of implicit preferences for "fat" or "thin" individuals. Students also answered a semantic differential item assessing their explicit weight-related preferences. The authors determined students' awareness of their biases by examining the correlation between students' explicit preferences and their IAT scores. RESULTS: Of 354 medical students, 310 (88%) completed valid surveys and consented to participate. Overall, 33% (101/310) self-reported a significant ("moderate" or "strong") explicit anti-fat bias. No students self-reported a significant explicit anti-thin bias. According to the IAT scores, over half of students had a significant implicit weight bias: 39% (121/310) had an anti-fat bias and 17% (52/310) an anti-thin bias. Two-thirds of students (67%, 81/121) were unaware of their implicit anti-fat bias. Only male gender predicted an explicit anti-fat bias (odds ratio 3.0, 95% confidence interval 1.8-5.3). No demographic factors were associated with an implicit anti-fat bias. Students' explicit and implicit biases were not correlated (Pearson r = 0.03, P = .58). CONCLUSIONS: Over one-third of medical students had a significant implicit anti-fat bias; few were aware of that bias. Accordingly, medical schools' obesity curricula should address weight-related biases and their potential impact on care.
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ABSTRACT: Objective This study examined weight bias among students training in health disciplines and its associations with their perceptions about treating patients with obesity, causes of obesity, and observations of weight bias by instructors and peers.Methods Students (N = 107) enrolled in a post-graduate health discipline (Physician Associate, Clinical Psychology, Psychiatric Residency) completed anonymous questionnaires to assess the above variables.ResultsStudents reported that patients with obesity are a common target of negative attitudes and derogatory humor by peers (63%), health-care providers (65%), and instructors (40%). Although 80% of students felt confident to treat obesity, many reported that patients with obesity lack motivation to make changes (33%), lead to feelings of frustration (36%), and are non-compliant with treatment (36%). Students with higher weight bias expressed greater frustration in these areas. The effect of students' weight bias on expectations for treatment compliance of patients with obesity was partially mediated by beliefs that obesity is caused by behavioral factors.Conclusions Weight bias is commonly observed by students in health disciplines, who themselves report frustrations and stereotypes about treating patients with obesity. These findings contribute new knowledge about weight bias among students and provide several targets for medical training and education.Obesity 04/2014; 22(4). · 4.39 Impact Factor
Article: Are Our Children "Diseased"?Childhood obesity (Print). 01/2014;
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ABSTRACT: In order to manage the increasing worldwide problem of obesity, medical students will need to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to assess and counsel patients with obesityFew educational intervention studies have been conducted with medical students addressing stigma and communication skills with patients who are overweight or obese. The purpose of this study was to evaluate changes in students' attitudes and beliefs about obesity, and their confidence in communication skills after a structured educational intervention that included a clinical encounter with an overweight standardized patient (SP). First year medical students (n = 127, 47% female) enrolled in a communications unit were instructed to discuss the SPs' overweight status and probe about their perceptions of being overweight during an 8 minute encounter. Prior to the session, students were asked to read two articles on communication and stigma as background information. Reflections on the readings and their performance with the SP were conducted prior to and after the encounter when students met in small groups. A newly constructed 16 item questionnaire was completed before, immediately after and one year after the session. Scale analysis was performed based on a priori classification of item intent. Three scales emerged from the questionnaire: negative obesity stereotyping (7 items), empathy (3 items), and counseling confidence (3 items). There were small but significant immediate post-intervention improvements in stereotyping (p = .002) and empathy (p < .0001) and a very large mean improvement in confidence (p < .0001). Significant improvement between baseline and immediate follow-up responses were maintained for empathy and counseling at one year after the encounter but stereotyping reverted to the baseline mean. Percent of students with improved scale scores immediately and at one year follow up were as follows: stereotyping 53.1% and 57.8%; empathy 48.4% and 47.7%; and confidence 86.7% and 85.9%. A structured encounter with an overweight SP was associated with a significant short-term decrease in negative stereotyping, and longer-term increase in empathy and raised confidence among first year medical students toward persons who are obese. The encounter was most effective for increasing confidence in counseling skills.BMC Medical Education 03/2014; 14(1):53. · 1.41 Impact Factor