Kicking off the news this week is a look at how we treat certain patients we care for. Do you think you harbor a weight bias when treating overweight or obese patients? We all see them. The CDC says that nearly 70% of all U.S. adults are overweight and 35% are obese.

Verbal and Non-Verbal Cues to Healthcare Bias

Chubby kid trying to wear pantsI found a great article on the subject online written by advanced practice oncology nurse Lisa Schulmeister over at the Oncology Nursing News site. She points out that we can engage in weight bias in a number of ways and may not even be aware of our reactions to these at-risk patients who need compassionate understanding and top quality nursing care, not judgment.

Research has shown that many healthcare professionals view overweight patients negatively and express their opinions through both verbal and non-verbal means. This might include making negative jokes and comments about overweight patients in the clinical setting or simply rolling their eyes when assigned certain patients.

Refocusing on the Obese Patient’s Needs

It’s also been shown that many of us are cynical about the efficacy of weight management and diet control programs, believing they are a waste of time. This is not only counter-productive to the patient’s wellness program but is against our own doctrine and education as nurses.

All patients must be given the optimal health improvement opportunities whatever our personal concerns and this is especially true for insidious health risks like obesity. While we might feel like a broken record constantly working to encourage overweight patients to lose weight and engage in healthier lifestyles, we must continue in our efforts.

In fact, perhaps that broken record really is broken. Maybe it’s time we stopped being lazy about managing these patients and use some good old fashioned nursing practices to create new and inventive interventions for these patients that will actually work. I think that is what we not only owe the patients. I think we owe it to ourselves.

Make sure you follow-up on the links for this news item and all of the other news and additional resource links from this week’s episode – Cancer Patient Care Failure Study with Gerard van Grinsven and Episode 312.

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