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.
Hot cars can hit deadly temperatures in as little as one hour
24.05.2018 | Arizona State University
3D images of cancer cells in the body: Medical physicists from Halle present new method
16.05.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences