Weight Bias Awareness Is Still Not Being Taught To Health ProfessionalsTuesday, December 13, 2016
So, has increased recognition of this problem resulted in the incorporation of this topic in health care training programs?
This was the topic of a study by Shelly Russell-Mayhew from the University of Calgary and colleagues, published in the Canadian Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
The environmental scan looked at teaching curricula from 67 Alberta training programs (26 diploma programs, 41 degree programs) from 22 training institutions (16 colleges, 6 universities) in medicine (MD, MSc, PhD), family medicine residency, nursing (DPN, BN, BSc, MN, MSc), dietetics (BSc), pharmacy (BSc, PharmD), physical therapy (MSc), occupational therapy (MSc), clinical and counselling psychology (MEd, MSc, PhD), school psychology (MSc, PhD), and social work (DSW, BSW, MSW).
Despite including general course work on obesity (mainly about diet and exercise), only social work students and students in one graduate level nurse practitioner program included coursework specifically dedicated to bias, discrimination, or social justice issues.
As the authors note,
“These results provide preliminary support for previous assertions that systematic training in obesity and weight bias is overlooked, and that the training provided fails to meet the needs of practitioners once they enter the health care field.”
Although the study was limited to Alberta, there is little reason to hope that the situation elsewhere in Canada is any better.
Thus, it appears that training programs have yet to embrace the importance of preparing future health care workers for addressing the needs of clients living with obesity with appropriate sensitivity regarding weight and size.