Obese Patients Treated Fairly

Obese patients receive equal treatment when it comes to preventative care, according to a new study, although docs admit to communication challenges.

Although many people assume that doctors have negative attitudes toward heavier patients, a new study shows that obese patients receive appropriate treatments when it comes to preventative medical care.

Previous research has shown that some doctors find it more difficult to give overweight patients advice about losing weight, and that practitioners often have low expectations for success. Many heavy patients have also reported that they feel doctors are biased because of their extra pounds.

However, researchers from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine teamed up with the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center and reviewed medical care information for nearly 70,000 patients who received Medicare benefits or received care from Veterans Affairs hospitals.

The results of the study surprised even the researchers, according to Reuters Health. “We were not expecting these findings,” lead author Dr. Virginia Chang of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center said. “We were fully expecting to find that obese patients got lower quality care and were less likely to get recommended care.”

After looking at eight measures required for preventative care services the study found that obese patients were actually more likely to get cancer screenings, as well as the flu vaccine. Diabetics who are obese were also much more likely to be recommended two different blood tests.

The researchers note that the quality of care was higher across all weight classes for VA patients over those on Medicare, but in both groups obese patients were more likely to get recommended care.

Overall the study showed that doctors are doing a good job at preventative care for all patients, regardless of their weight or the patient’s perception that the doctor may be biased.

But the authors do say that the results focused on older patients, so the findings may not ring true in the younger obese population for those who feel an intense pressure to be thin due to societal biases.

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