Awkward Adiposity – using simulation obesity suits in training

For this project Lesley and Caz were particularly interested to explore the use of simulation obesity suits that might be used in training situations, such as Safe Handling training.

Lesley, Caz and Jo attended a range of routine Safe Handling sessions in one District Health Board area and have either observed the training, participated in the training as a volunteer, or participated in the training as a volunteer wearing a simulation obesity suit.

Before and after each session we have administered a questionnaire about weight stigma and bias attitudes and perceptions.

A range of different types of health professionals participate in these sessions (compulsory for new/returning staff).

This project is still ongoing, so we are not quite at the data analysis stage – we will give an update at BMI 2017 seminars.

The suits do have the potential to be useful in training settings, although we think that the person wearing the suit should not be one of the training participants.  The volunteer should be an ‘actor’.  Asking training session participants to ‘dress up’ may lead to inadvertent stigmatising behaviour with participants.   A trained volunteer is able to impart advice/hints/tips at appropriate points in the training to support non-stigmatising care approaches by the participants and this seems to be of value to training participants – more about this once we fully analyse the data!

Research team: Lesley Gray, Dr Caz Hales, Jo Hilder, Kate Edmond

This research received a Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Research and Education Charitable Trust grant, 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.