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Obese patients get high quality medical care

April 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Surveys of physicians and other health care professionals have shown a certain stigma towards overweight and obese patients. Some of these patients say they feel that bias, but does it affect the care they receive? A new study shows when it comes to several common outpatient medical procedures, overweight and obese patients receive just as good or slightly better care than those who are normal weight.At the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center it's a typical day for patients to go get their blood sugar checked.

While others are receiving a flu shot, Dr. Virginia Chang from the University of Pennsylvania several common outpatient procedures performed at VA facilities from 2003 to 2004. They wanted to see if doctors treated overweight patients differently.

"It very may very well be that physicians and other health providers may harbor somewhat negative attitudes towards obesity or obese patients," said Dr. Chang.

But is there a negative bias? Many obese patients say that when they visit their physician they say their doctors blame their weight for all of their health concerns, and they may not get proper care. But when it comes to diabetes and cholesterol screenings the study shows something different.

"We did not find any evidence across any of these measures that obese or overweight patients are receiving lower quality of care," said Dr. Chang. "To the contrary, we found that these groups often receive slightly better care on several of our measures."

In a study provided by the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers found 74-percent of obese patients had their glucose monitored regularly compared to 62-percent for normal weight patients.

Researchers found it was almost the same when it came to timely cholesterol checks.

Researchers say these findings may help to understand why the risk of death associated with obesity is not as high as it used to be.

"I think our results suggest that physicians might be a little bit more aggressive in modifying risk factors for obese patients," said Dr. Chang.

This study looked at a slightly older group of patients and the quality of care experienced by younger overweight or obese patients differ.