The impact of obesity on perceived patient-centred communication

S. M. Phelan, B. A. Lynch, K. D. Blake, D. Blanch-Hartigan, R. Hardeman, P. Wilson, M. Branda, L. J. Finney Rutten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Patient–provider communication has been found to be less patient centred, on average, with patients who are members of stigmatized or minority groups. Obesity is a stigmatized condition, and thus, people with obesity may experience less patient-centred communication (PCC). The objective of this study was to assess the association between patient body mass index (BMI) and self-reported quality of PCC experienced over a 12-month period and whether that relationship differed for men and women. Methods: Data collected for the National Cancer Institute's Health Information National Trends Survey were analysed. Respondents who reported a BMI ≥ 18.5 kg/m2 and indicated having seen a healthcare provider outside of an emergency room in the last 12 months were included. PCC was measured using a validated six-item scale. Multivariate logistic regression was used to model the odds of reporting PCC greater than the sample median. Results: Compared with people with normal weight BMIs, no associations were found between overweight (odds ratio [OR] = 0.84, p = 0.17), class I & II obesity (OR = 0.94, p = 0.68) or class III obesity (OR = 0.86, p = 0.47) and PCC. There was a significant interaction (p = 0.015) such that for men, but not women, higher BMI was associated with less PCC. Conclusion: Unlike evidence that women experience more weight stigma, in the healthcare domain, men may be at elevated risk of experiencing communication influenced by weight stigma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-346
Number of pages9
JournalObesity Science and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • Disparities
  • health communication
  • obesity
  • patient-centred care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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