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Talking about obesity with clients: preferred terms and communication styles of UK pre-registration dieticians, doctors and nurses

Swift, Judy A.; Choi, Edith; Puhl, Rebecca M.; Glazebrook, Cris

Authors

Judy A. Swift

Edith Choi

Rebecca M. Puhl

Cris Glazebrook



Abstract

Objective
To describe trainee healthcare professionals’ preferred terms when talking about obesity, their beliefs about initiating discussions about weight, and their confidence about consulting with obese people.

Methods
A self-completed questionnaire collected data on demographics, preferred terms, beliefs about initiation of discussions, confidence and training needs from 1036 pre-registration dieticians, nurses and doctors.

Results
Participants’ preferred terms when raising the issue of obesity with clients were BMI (mean=.96), weight (mean=.71) and unhealthy BMI (mean=.43). When defining a client's bodyweight, students endorsed the euphemism ‘your weight may be damaging your health’ (67.6%). A proactive, collaborative communication style was preferred by 34.9% of participants. 58.2% of participants felt confident about discussing obesity with clients and 95.1% felt that that more training would be useful.

Conclusion
It is reassuring that UK trainee healthcare professionals avoid value-laden terms and broadly endorse words preferred by people with obesity. It is, however, concerning that the majority of participants did not favor a proactive, collaborative communication style.

Practice implications
Educators of tomorrow's healthcare professionals could take advantage of students’ desire for more training on how to effectively talk to clients with obesity about their weight. Such training would, however, require the development of clear guidelines on terminology and communication styles.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2013
Journal Patient Education and Counseling
Print ISSN 0738-3991
Electronic ISSN 0738-3991
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 91
Issue 2
APA6 Citation Swift, J. A., Choi, E., Puhl, R. M., & Glazebrook, C. (2013). Talking about obesity with clients: preferred terms and communication styles of UK pre-registration dieticians, doctors and nurses. Patient Education and Counseling, 91(2), doi:10.1016/j.pec.2012.12.008
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pec.2012.12.008
Keywords Obesity, Medical terminology, Communication, Stigma
Publisher URL http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0738399112005216
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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