Health professionals’ weight bias may impair obese patients’ interactions with providers. However, few studies have examined how negative provider attitudes affect the patient-provider relationship for obese patients. We hypothesized that higher patient body mass index (BMI) would be negatively associated with patient-provider relationship quality.
We analyzed data from the 2007 Health Tracking Household Survey. BMI was the independent variable, and patient-perceived quality of the patient-provider relationship was the outcome. We performed log-binominal regression analyses accounting for complex survey design to examine the association of BMI with the patient-provider relationship.
Of the 15,197 adult survey respondents, the 6,427 who answered the quality of care questions were eligible for analysis. Overall, 29% had a normal range BMI, 34% were overweight, and 37% were obese. We found few differences in ratings of the patient-provider relationship for overweight and obese respondents when compared to respondents with a normal range BMI.
These unexpected findings may have occurred due to patients’ inability to perceive providers’ weight bias, measurement error in questionnaire items, or decreasing weight bias among health professionals.
Patient’s positive perceptions of providers may indicate promise for health professionals acting as motivators of behavior change in obese patients.
Keywords: Patient Satisfaction, Patient Provider, Obesity, Adults