A ‘well-rounded’ approach to understanding weight stigma in maternity care – women’s experiences and care providers’ practice

Mulherin, Kate (2010). A ‘well-rounded’ approach to understanding weight stigma in maternity care – women’s experiences and care providers’ practice Honours Thesis, School of Psychology, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Mulherin, Kate
Thesis Title A ‘well-rounded’ approach to understanding weight stigma in maternity care – women’s experiences and care providers’ practice
School, Centre or Institute School of Psychology
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010
Thesis type Honours Thesis
Supervisor Miller, Yvette D.
Total pages 162
Subjects 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Abstract/Summary Negative attitudes and behaviours towards overweight and obese people (i.e., weight stigma) are pervasive in Western society and highly prevalent in healthcare settings. Substantial evidence demonstrates the negative impact of weight stigma on psychosocial functioning and health behaviours. There has been an increased focus on the management of overweight and obese women in pregnancy, reflected in the literature, current clinical guidelines and the media. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether weight stigma manifests in maternity care. Specifically, the present study investigated the impact of a woman’s pre-pregnancy body mass index (BMI) on her experiences of care, and future healthcare providers’ responses to maternity care patients of different body size. Study One examined data from 628 women who gave birth in Queensland in 2009, and found that women with a higher BMI were more likely to report negative experiences of care in pregnancy, and report less positive care after birth. Study Two determined the effect of patient BMI normalweight, overweight, or obese) on 248 Medical and Midwifery students’ clinical management, perceptions of and attitudes towards providing care for the patient during pregnancy. Intended clinical management (e.g., referral to dieticians) differed on the basis of patient body size. Further, participants perceived that overweight and obese women had poorer self-care behaviours than normal-weight pregnant women, and participants had more positive attitudes towards caring for normal-weight women than overweight and obese women. Overall, results from both studies provide preliminary evidence that weight stigma can be identified in maternity care. This highlights a need for further research into the nature and consequences of weight stigma in maternity care, and has implications for training of future maternity care professionals.

 
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Created: Wed, 06 Apr 2011, 11:25:18 EST by Lucy O'Brien on behalf of School of Psychology