Title of Presentation

The Role of the Psychologist in Supporting Fat Patients in the Medical System

Presenter Biography

Tessalyn (she/her) is a medical student currently working on her MPH in Epidemiology in the combined MD/MPH program at OHSU/PSU School of Public Health. Her goal in medicine is to become a rheumatologist and use her anthropology and epidemiology skill sets to give voice to the "underheard" in medicine . Some of her research interests are shared decision making and describing the medical experiences of transgender people and patients with Lyme disease and obesity.

Institution

OHSU

Program/Major

Epidemiology

Degree

MD/MPH

Presentation Type

Event

Start Date

7-4-2020 3:44 PM

End Date

7-4-2020 3:57 PM

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/33770

Keywords

Fat, Obese, Community Participatory Based Research, Psychology, Discrimination, Advocacy

Abstract

This was a collaborative project between a medical student, a psychologist, and two community fat activists to review and present literature and personal experiences on the role psychologists could play in supporting fat patients who experience discrimination in daily life and in the medical system. There are many terms to describe people and patients with a high percentage of adipose tissue, however the word “fat” is preferred by our community activists and is therefore what we are using for this project. There are three main messages that this collaborative would like to communicate to the field of psychologists in considering their role in advocating for fat patients. First, our research finds that fat shaming and fat bias get in the way of healthcare for fat patients by preventing providers from working with patients on the patients’ individual goals. Second, our research finds that our medical approach to treating fat patients is confident yet ineffective, which fuels shame and guilt. Providers emphasize treatments of diet and exercise, which are not sufficient for promoting weight loss, and utilize BMI which, while useful on a population level, does not associate with individual patients’ health. Third, our research finds that there are actionable ways in which psychologists can improve care for their fat patients, including recognizing daily oppressions experienced by fat patients, creating fat inclusive healthcare environments, and criticizing research and patient care that puts the locus of control solely on the individual.

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Apr 7th, 3:44 PM Apr 7th, 3:57 PM

The Role of the Psychologist in Supporting Fat Patients in the Medical System

This was a collaborative project between a medical student, a psychologist, and two community fat activists to review and present literature and personal experiences on the role psychologists could play in supporting fat patients who experience discrimination in daily life and in the medical system. There are many terms to describe people and patients with a high percentage of adipose tissue, however the word “fat” is preferred by our community activists and is therefore what we are using for this project. There are three main messages that this collaborative would like to communicate to the field of psychologists in considering their role in advocating for fat patients. First, our research finds that fat shaming and fat bias get in the way of healthcare for fat patients by preventing providers from working with patients on the patients’ individual goals. Second, our research finds that our medical approach to treating fat patients is confident yet ineffective, which fuels shame and guilt. Providers emphasize treatments of diet and exercise, which are not sufficient for promoting weight loss, and utilize BMI which, while useful on a population level, does not associate with individual patients’ health. Third, our research finds that there are actionable ways in which psychologists can improve care for their fat patients, including recognizing daily oppressions experienced by fat patients, creating fat inclusive healthcare environments, and criticizing research and patient care that puts the locus of control solely on the individual.