Weight Bias? • Dr. Sharma had previously blogged about the problem of weight bias amongst health professionals and how this can possibly lead to poorer health care for people with excess weight. • A new study by Virginia Chang and colleagues from the University of Pennsylvania, just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that the quality of health care may not necessarily be worse for obese people compared to normal weight folks. Notes: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20371786
Study • The reserachers examined eight different performance measures in two US national-level patient populations: (1) Medicare beneficiaries (n = 36 122) and (2) recipients of care from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) (n = 33 550). • The performance measures included diabetes care (eye examination, glycated hemoglobin [HbA(1c)] testing, and lipid screening), pneumococcal vaccination, influenza vaccination, screening mammography, colorectal cancer screening, and cervical cancer screening. • Based on these data, the researchers found no evidence that obese or overweight patients were less likely to receive recommended care relative to normal-weight patients.
Cont… • In fact, comparing obese vs normal-weight patients with diabetes, obese patients were more likely to receive recommended care on lipid screening (72% vs 65%) and HbA(1c) testing (74% vs 62%). • Obese patients were also more likely to receive pneumococcal vaccinations (53% vs. 49%). • In fact, there was no measure in which obese people were less likely to receive care compared to people with normal weight.
Findings • Of course, this study says nothing about attitudes or bias amongst health care professionals, which continues to be a concern, and it should perhaps be noted that the patients in both of these data bases tend to be older. • While the authors interpret these findings as evidence that perhaps more attention is now being paid to health in people presenting with excess weight, they also suggest that previous reports on poorer care for obesity may in part be due to self-reported recall biases in retrospective studies. • Dr. Sharma wonders what his readers think about this issue: any personal stories or anecdotes are most welcome.
About Dr. Arya M. Sharma Dr. Arya M. Sharma, MD/PhD, FRCPC is Professor of Medicine & Chair for Obesity Research and Management at the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada. He is also the Medical Director of the Edmonton Capital Health Region’s interdisciplinary Weight Wise Program. Dr. Sharma is also the Scientific Director of the Canadian Obesity Network funded through the federal Networks of Centres Excellence program. Dr. Sharma has authored and co-authored more than 250 scientific articles and has lectured widely on the etiology and management of obesity and related cardiovascular disorders. He sends his informative messages through his blog Dr. Sharma’s Obesity Notes. For more information on Obesity visit; Website: http://www.drsharma.ca/ Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Arya-Sharma/115328778486319