How Trustworthy Is a Doctor Who Judges You?

A trustworthy doctor, in the eyes of someone with obesity, is likely to be one who will not judge them based upon their weight. This finding from researchers at Johns Hopkins builds further understanding of how weight bias — all too common in healthcare providers — erodes the likelihood of good clinical outcomes for people with obesity.

Just published in Patient Education and Counseling, the study by Kimberly Gudzune and colleagues showed that patients who felt judged by their primary care provider were much less likely to trust that provider.

Trust between patients and physicians is essential to good clinical care. Other research has shown that trust fosters commitment to the primary care relationship and adherence to medical advice. Trust makes patients with hypertension more likely to pursue a healthy weight.

Likewise, weight-based judgments lead to worse clinical outcomes. People with obesity who feel judged by their physician are less likely to achieve a healthier weight. They are more likely to seek care in an emergency department and to change doctors.

Good clinical judgment does not include judging people based on their weight.

Click here to read the study and here for a study by Gudzune et al on how weight-based judgments influence weight outcomes. Click here and here for further perspective on how weight bias influences healthcare delivery.

Trust, photograph © Lars Plougmann / flickr

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2 Responses to “How Trustworthy Is a Doctor Who Judges You?”

  1. July 13, 2014 at 11:57 am, Debera Gau said:

    Is it judgment or poor language? Often we hear what we want and in a 10 min encounter often with a computer between us it’s becoming ever more difficult to build that patient/caregiver relationship. A sentence that sounds like Your blood pressure is high, you’ll need to exercise more and here’s a prescription, sounds very different than I’m concerned about your blood pressure, it’s high today how have you been feeling? Let’s work to get that lowered, we can start with medication but we’ll also need to look at __ and __. Add obesity, poor self image, insecurity whatever into the conversation and it suddenly seems to be directed at that. Then the person lights up social media complaining about the Dr. is so ignorant and only cares about getting me on a medication and out of his/her office so they could get the next person in. So in closing perhaps the patient has some responsibility in helping to create that trust relationship, instead of jumping to the conclusion of I was judged by my weight, or whatever they could say,.medication sounds like a start what else can I do and can you help me with that? It’s not a simple thing

    • July 13, 2014 at 5:44 pm, Ted said:

      You are certainly right that it’s far from a simple matter, Debera. Listening takes time and misunderstanding is easier than understanding — on both sides of a conversation. The best advice I’ve heard on the subject came from Gary Foster, who said, “If you’re talking more than half the time, it’s too much.”