Physiotherapists demonstrate weight stigma: a cross-sectional survey of Australian physiotherapists

Setchell, Jenny, Watson, Bernadette, Jones, Liz, Gard, Michael and Briffa, Kathy (2014) Physiotherapists demonstrate weight stigma: a cross-sectional survey of Australian physiotherapists. Journal of Physiotherapy, 60 3: 157-162. doi:10.1016/j.jphys.2014.06.020

Author Setchell, Jenny
Watson, Bernadette
Jones, Liz
Gard, Michael
Briffa, Kathy
Title Physiotherapists demonstrate weight stigma: a cross-sectional survey of Australian physiotherapists
Journal name Journal of Physiotherapy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1836-9561
Publication date 2014-09
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.jphys.2014.06.020
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 60
Issue 3
Start page 157
End page 162
Total pages 6
Place of publication Chatswood, NSW, Australia
Publisher Elsevier Australia
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Question: Do physiotherapists demonstrate explicit and implicit weight stigma? Design: Cross-sectional survey with partial blinding of participants. Participants responded to the Anti-Fat Attitudes questionnaire and physiotherapy case studies with body mass index (BMI) manipulated (normal or overweight/obese). The Anti-Fat Attitudes questionnaire included 13 items scored on a Likert-type scale from 0 to 8. Any score greater than zero indicated explicit weight stigma. Implicit weight stigma was determined by comparing responses to case studies with people of different BMI categories (where responses were quantitative) and by thematic and count analysis for free-text responses. Participants: Australian physiotherapists (n = 265) recruited via industry networks. Results: The mean item score for the Anti-Fat Attitudes questionnaire was 3.2 (SD 1.1), which indicated explicit weight stigma. The Dislike (2.1, SD 1.2) subscale had a lower mean item score than the Fear (3.9, SD 1.8) and Willpower (4.9, SD 1.5) subscales. There was minimal indication from the case studies that people who are overweight receive different treatment from physiotherapists in clinical parameters such as length of treatment time (p = 0.73) or amount of hands-on treatment (p = 0.88). However, there were indications of implicit weight stigma in the way participants discussed weight in free-text responses about patient management. Conclusion: Physiotherapists demonstrate weight stigma. This finding is likely to affect the way they communicate with patients about their weight, which may negatively impact their patients. It is recommended that physiotherapists reflect on their own attitudes towards people who are overweight and whether weight stigma influences treatment focus.
Keyword Body weight
Physical therapists
Social stigma
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences Publications
School of Psychology Publications
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