Weight Bias, Provider-Patient Interactions & Motivational Interviewing

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November 6, 2015 by Nicholas Spence

stop-weight-biasThe Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity has a lot of useful information, ranging from the level of policy to clinical care.

Although there is no shortage of links and material to explore, the Toolkit for Health Care Providers addresses an issue of high relevance for health care providers working in the area of obesity. Centered on preventing weight bias in clinical practice, 8 modules are provided spanning a variety of related issues.

Although I encourage you to work through all of the modules, Module 2: Improving Provider-Patient Interactions is useful in providing a good overview of how to build better relationships, including the use of motivational interviewing.

There are some excellent motivational interviewing strategies that are provided, focused on diet and exercise as well as concrete and realistic examples and sample scripts for a clinical setting.

Why is this issue important? All too often, people living with obesity experience negative interactions with health service providers as a result of weight bias. Understandably, this severely restricts the quality and utility of provider-patient interactions, limiting the potential benefits of care.  In most cases, health care providers are well-intentioned and truly want to provide the best care possible to enhance the health outcomes of patients, but they may not be aware of existing biases in practice. Given the nature of chronic conditions, such as obesity, which have multiple causes, including lifestyle, management requires a long term approach which is founded on a strong provider-patient relationship characterized by empathy, trust and a non-judgemental approach. The toolkit is a step in the right direction!

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