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Overweight Patients May Have Effect on Doctor's Attitude

Study finds that physicians may have lower respect for patients with higher body mass index

THURSDAY, Oct. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians have lower respect for patients with high body mass index (BMI), which may have an impact on patient care and outcomes, according to a study published online Sept. 18 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Mary Margaret Huizinga, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from questionnaires completed by 40 physicians and 238 patients enrolled in the Patient-Physician Partnership Study in 2003 to 2005. The researchers analyzed the association between physician respect of patients (self-assessed on a five-point Likert scale) and BMI.

The researchers found that the mean BMI of patients in the study was 32.9 kg/m2. As the BMI of patients increased, physicians reported lower respect with a ten-unit BMI increase associated with a 14 percent increase in the prevalence of low physician respect. The association remained significant even when adjustment was made for patient gender and age. In addition, there was no association observed between physician respect and other patient characteristics.

"Physicians have lower respect for patients with higher BMI. This finding is independent of other patient, physician and relationship characteristics," the authors conclude. "Low respect from physicians may lead to poorer health outcomes, but further research is needed to fully understand the implications of this study's findings."

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