Extremely obese patients pose significant challenges for those who strive to provide care. The prevalence and consequences of weight bias and stigma in health care have been well documented, but research on how to reduce weight bias and stigma is limited. To assess the impact of simulating obesity on the attitudes and perceptions of health professionals toward extreme obesity, a qualitative study involving 6 registered nurses and 1 registered physiotherapist was conducted between November 2015 and May 2016.
Health professionals who had regular contact with persons with obesity were recruited through poster advertisement in 1 hospital and 2 universities. Participants completed a demographic survey that included their physical measurements (height, weight, and waist circumference). They then wore a suit simulating the shape and size of a person with extreme obesity for approximately 2 hours and engaged in activities such as taking public transport or visiting a café. Audiotaped, semistructured interviews were conducted before and after the suit exercise and transcribed verbatim for conventional content analysis that identified 3 main categories: 1) insights into the physical challenges facing people with extreme obesity; 2) awareness of social consequences for people with extreme obesity; and 3) changes in participants’ attitudes toward people with extreme obesity. Following the exercise, personal attitudes were found to be less judgmental and more empathetic. Using a simulation suit may increase awareness among health professionals regarding issues facing persons with obesity and may be a positive influence on diffusing weight stigma and bias in health care settings, particularly in the area of wound prevention … read more