Researchers from Texas, USA, carried out in-depth interviews with women aged between 20 and 61, after recruiting them through local advertisements placed in community agencies and a regional newspaper.
“The participants in our study described the experience of seeking healthcare as a constant battle and struggle and were upset by the reactions of healthcare staff” says lead author Professor Emily Merrill from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.
“They told us that they felt even more uncomfortable with specialists than with their own family doctors and nurse practitioners.”
Four themes emerged: struggling to fit in, feeling not quite human, being dismissed and refusing to give up.
Women talked about feeling shame and embarrassment because they did not fit into the normal healthcare environment because of their size and needed larger gowns, blood pressure cuffs, scales and chairs.
Elena told researchers that she had to wait half an hour to have her blood pressure taken, because the right equipment wasn’t available. She related how embarrassed she was while the nurse was running round the office saying: “We need the bigger cuff. She can’t fit the other.”
And Tammy’s bad experiences have made her plan ahead when she goes to a healthcare appointment. “I am to the point now where I will pretty much demand a larger fitting gown before the nurse even walks out of the room” she says.
Women also reported feeling less than human because of their size.
For example, the doctor delivering Doris’ son upset her with a tactless remark at a time when she feeling particularly vulnerable because of her size. “He said ‘Just relax and just envision yourself on a beach like a big ole whale beached.’ That hurt me so much because already I felt big.”
Tammy added that healthcare professionals didn’t seem to see her as a person. “When you look at me, see me as you would look at any other normal person with a condition” she said. “Don’t look at me as some huge overweight woman who needs your help.”
The women who took part in the study had all dieted and felt defeated by their weight and their failed attempts to control it.
Stella said that being overweight was the “worst thing in my life” and she longed to be a normal size. “It’s not something I think about one or two times a day. It’s something that is always, always there, from getting out of bed…” she told researchers.
Elena was cross that the doctors didn’t listen to what she said, that she didn’t eat fast food and drink sodas. “They don’t care. It’s like they are too busy to stop and listen” she said.
The women also talked about being dismissed by healthcare professionals.
Lynette was refused treatment for her arthritis by a chiropractor because of her weight. She told the researchers he “took one look at me and said ‘All you need to do is lose weight and that would solve all your problems’… He didn’t bother with X-rays or an examination or anything, so it was amazing to me that he could know that from just reading over the questionnaire and looking at me.”
And Kay’s doctor was unsympathetic about her high blood pressure and weight problem and told her to simply stop eating. She felt that he had treated her “so pathetically like I was nothing” that she changed doctors and found one who treated her with respect. “He respected me, so I think I was more inclined to listen to him and to do what he asked me to do” she said.
“The eight women we spoke to were stigmatized because they did not fit into the healthcare environment or the cultural expectation of being slim” says Professor Merrill, who carried out the research with Professor Jane Grassley from Texas Women’s University.
“It is vital that healthcare providers tackle the issues raised by overweight women as latest figures show that a third of women in the USA are obese. Research also shows that women may delay or avoid healthcare if providers have reacted negatively to them because of their weight.
“The women who took part in our study were determined to control their weight and improve their health despite many failed attempts. And they were keen to receive support and resources from healthcare professionals.”
The researchers say that nurses can play a crucial role in supporting women who are overweight and obese, especially in primary care, and that training should reflect the growing need for effective care in this area.
“Nurses should also use their influence to adopt measures in all practice settings to provide appropriate communications, space, furniture, equipment and supplies to create a respectful and welcoming environment for patients who are overweight” concludes Professor Merrill.
Study suggests possible new target for treating and preventing Alzheimer's
02.12.2016 | Oregon Health & Science University
The first analysis of Ewing's sarcoma methyloma opens doors to new treatments
01.12.2016 | IDIBELL-Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy