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Nurse Practitioners Admit Prejudices Toward Overweight Patients

iStock/Thinkstock(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- Many patients are likely getting shortchanged in the care they receive from nurse practitioners because of biases towards overweight and obese people, according to a survey conducted by the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Based on the responses of more than 350 participants, the survey revealed that over half agreed with statements that included:

  • Overweight people are not as good as others.
  • Overweight people are not as healthy as others.
  • Overweight people have family issues.
  • Overweight people are addicted to food.

Peggy Ward-Smith, associate professor of nursing at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, admitted, "Negative perceptions interfere with providing high quality care for the obese individual."

In trying to explain why these prejudices exist, Ward-Smith said, "We know that it is harder to take care of these patients because they weigh more; they are hard on the equipment and they are hard to move."

As a result, many obese and overweight patients are stigmatized, some reaching the point of cancelling appointments or changing providers.

In order to deal with the problem, Ward-Smith contends, "Increasing sensitivity and empathetic support can be a critical aspect in improving the care of these people who struggle to manage their weight."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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