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healthcare, obesity, overweight, qualitative research, women



  1. Buxton, Barbara K.
  2. Snethen, Julia


Background: Nearly two thirds of the adult population in the United States is overweight or obese. Adults who are overweight or obese require the same high-quality healthcare from their providers as any other adult. Unfortunately, stigma is a reality experienced by individuals who are overweight or obese, and healthcare professionals' views have sometimes been reported to be biased against individuals who are overweight or obese. However, there are gaps and inconsistencies in the literature regarding the types of experiences and perceptions of obese women receiving healthcare and whether stigma is present.


Objective: The aim of this study was to describe the experiences and perceptions of obese women with regard to stigma in healthcare and from their healthcare provider.


Methods: A phenomenological research approach using the Colaizzi method was utilized to examine and describe the lived experience of overweight and obese women with healthcare. Semistructured interviews were conducted with a diverse, purposive sample of 26 English-speaking women with a body mass index of over 30 kg/m2. Participants were asked to describe their perceptions and experiences with regard to healthcare and their relationship with their healthcare providers.


Results: Four themes emerged from the analysis of the data: (a) perceptions of health and healthcare, (b) respect me as a person, (c) establishing a healthcare connection, and (d) assertiveness is necessary. Although stigma was not named by women in this study, all acknowledged some negative treatment by healthcare providers.


Discussion: Discussion relating to the current professional literature is presented. Implications for nursing education and research are discussed.