04/15/2010 - News

Obese Patients Just as Likely to Receive Preventive Care

By: June Chen, MD


People who are overweight or obese often fear that healthcare providers are biased because of their weight. And, clinicians often express dissatisfaction in caring for obese patients. In combination, these observations raise potential concerns that obese patients might receive lower quality of medical care. However, according to a new study published in the April 7 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, obese patients are no less likely to receive recommended preventive care than other patients.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine performed a study to determine whether performance on 8 common outpatient quality of care measures would vary based on patient weight. The populations studied included 36,122 Medicare beneficiaries and 33,550 veterans. For the purposes of the study, an obese patient was defined as a person with a body mass index (BMI) of at least 30 kg/m2. The quality measures assessed were diabetes care, pneumococcal vaccination, influenza vaccination, mammography screening, colorectal cancer screening, and cervical cancer screening. The researchers found no evidence that overweight or obese patients were less likely to receive recommended care than normal-weight patients. In fact, for diabetes care, performance measures were actually higher among overweight or obese Medicare beneficiaries.

Based on the findings of this study, it seems that, even if clinicians have negative attitudes toward obesity, these attitudes do not translate into lower quality of care for obese patients. Prevention of obesity remains a public health priority, but since the majority of adults in the U.S. are already overweight or obese, quality of care for overweight or obese patients is important, as well.



JAMA 2010; 303 (13): 1274-1281.


Created on: 04/15/2010
Reviewed on: 04/15/2010

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