Despite bias from some doctors, overweight patients often receive better care than normal-weight peers, study finds
TUESDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Countering concerns that obese Americans get second-rate health care, a new study has found no difference in the quality of medical attention they receive versus that of normal-weight patients.
In fact, the quality of care for the obese may actually be higher and more aggressive than that given to normal-weight people, the study authors said.
"Contrary to our expectations, we found that in certain measures overweight patients were actually slightly more likely to get recommend care," said lead researcher Dr. Virginia W. Chang, an assistant professor of medicine and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.
The study findings are published in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Chang said the study was motivated by surveys that found many doctors and health-care professionals "openly admit having negative attitudes towards obese patients. They say they are dissatisfied in caring for obese patients. They find it uncomfortable, unpleasant and not professionally rewarding."
Obese patients are sensitive to this, she added. "A lot of obese patients will say they experience weight-related stigma from a doctor or they will name doctors as the primary source of weight-related bias," Chang said.
These attitudes left Chang wondering if stigma might somehow lower the quality of care obese patients receive.
To find out, her team tracked eight common measures of quality of medical care, including diabetes care, pneumococcal vaccination, influenza vaccination, and screenings for breast, colorectal and cervical cancers.
The researchers evaluated these quality measures for more than 36,000 Medicare patients and 33,550 Veterans Administration patients.
Across all the quality
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