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Keywords:

  • primary care;
  • treatment;
  • prejudice;
  • discrimination

Abstract

Objective: A prior study found that nearly 80% of bariatric surgery patients felt that they were treated disrespectfully by members of the medical profession. This study assessed patient-physician interactions in a group of bariatric surgery patients and in a group of less obese patients who sought weight loss by other means.

Research Methods and Procedures: A total of 105 bariatric surgery candidates (mean BMI, 54.8 kg/m2) and 214 applicants to a randomized controlled trial of the effects of behavior modification and sibutramine (mean BMI, 37.8 kg/m2) completed a questionnaire that assessed patient-physician interactions concerning weight.

Results: Only 13% of bariatric surgery patients reported that they were usually or always treated disrespectfully by members of the medical profession, a percentage substantially lower than that found in the previous study. Surprisingly, surgery patients were significantly more satisfied than nonsurgery patients with the care they received for their obesity. Surgery patients also reported significantly more interactions with physicians concerning obesity and weight loss compared with nonsurgery patients. A substantial percentage of both groups, however, reported that their physician did not discuss weight control with them.

Discussion: These and other findings suggest that doctor-patient interactions concerning weight may have improved in the past decade; however, there is still much room for improvement. Increased efforts are needed to help physicians discuss, assess, and potentially treat obesity in primary care practice.