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Study: Physicians less likely to 'bond' with overweight patients
Date:4/22/2013

des toward these patients. Some physicians have less respect for their obese patients, which may come across during patient encounters.

"If patients see their primary care doctors as allies, I think they will be more successful in complying with our advice," says Gudzune, whose practice focuses on weight-loss issues. "I hear from patients all the time about how they resent feeling judged negatively because of their weight. Yes, doctors need to be medical advisors, but they also have the opportunity to be advocates to support their patients through changes in their lives."

For the study, Gudzune and her colleagues analyzed recordings of visits by 208 patients with high blood pressure who saw 39 primary care doctors in Baltimore between 2003 and 2005. The recordings showed no difference related to body mass index (BMI), a ratio of height to weight, in terms of time spent with each patient or in weight counseling. But when the recordings were analyzed for expressed words of empathy, concern or encouragement, the differences popped out. The researchers found more evidence of empathetic words and phrases showing concern, reassurance and legitimation of patients' feelings in interactions with patients of normal weight. An example of showing empathy would be a doctor who says: "I can see how frustrated you are by your slow progress anyone would be."

Gudzune says physicians should be mindful of any negative attitudes, make an effort to bond, and then spend time with overweight and obese patients discussing psychosocial and lifestyle issues. If they do, physicians may find their obese patients more responsive to weight-loss counseling.

"Patients want information and treatment, but they also need the emotional support and attention that can help them through the challenges that accompany weight loss and the establishment of a healthy lifestyle," she says.


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Contact: Stephanie Desmon
sdesmon1@jhmi.edu
410-955-8665
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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