Study: Physicians Less Likely to Bond with Overweight, Obese Patients

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Physicians are less likely to build an emotional rapport with overweight and obese patients, according to a study in Obesity.

Researchers studied audio-recorded outpatient encounters between 39 primary care physicians and 208 patients, and compared patients' BMIs with physician communication behaviors.


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Physicians were found to have built less of an emotional rapport with their overweight and obese patients than with their patients of a normal weight. No other communication behaviors were found to have varied among patients.

The study's lead author, Kimberly A. Gudzune, MD, MPH, emphasized the importance of emotional rapport in a news release: "Some studies have linked those bonding behaviors with patient satisfaction and adherence, while other studies have found that patients were more likely to change their dietary habits, increase exercise and attempt to lose weight when their physicians expressed more empathy. Without that rapport, you could be cheating the patients who need that engagement the most."

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