Awkward Adiposity – Simulation Obesity Suits and Health Professional Perceptions

Published 2018

Hales C, Gray L, Russell L, MacDonald C. A qualitative study exploring the impact of simulating extreme obesity on health care professional attitudes and perceptions. Ostomy and Wound Management, 2018;64(1):18-24

We knew that there wa a fair amount written around weight stigma and bias, and Rebecca Puhl and colleagues in the USA have been looking at health professional bias.

We wanted to find out if simulation obesity suits had a positive or negative effect on health professional attitudes and perceptions about people with obesity.  We started off looking at nurses, this then expanded to include other health professionals.

One thing that struck us was that whilst many health professionals expressed interest in the study, very few wanted to participate and wear the suit.  This prompted us to go back to the Ethics Committee so that we could interview those who had expressed interest and had decided not to wear the suit.

Our article was published at the start of 2018 and we presented a reflexive critique of this approach at the European Congress on Obesity in April 2019 (Glasgow, Scotland).

Research team: Dr Caz Hales, Lesley Gray, Dr Carol MacDonald, Dr Lynne Russell, Julie Howe.

This research received a University Research Fund/ Research Establishment Grant from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and funding for the simulation suit from the Department of Primary Health Care & General Practice, University of Otago, Wellington.  Essential Helpcare assisted with freight costs to bring the suit from the UK.