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‘Being defined’: large-bodied women’s experiences as healthcare consumers

Williams, DM ORCID: 0000-0002-5697-1848 2018 , '‘Being defined’: large-bodied women’s experiences as healthcare consumers' , Health Sociology Review, vol. 27 , pp. 60-74 , doi:

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Despite an increasingly pathologised discourse on overweight andobesity, the clinical experiences of large bodied individuals remainrelatively unexplored. In addition, interventions targetingoverweight and obesity have generally failed to recognise the rolethat weight related discrimination and stigma play in both theuptake of interventions and the experience of healthcareconsumers. This Australian research used a grounded theoryapproach, informed by constructivism, to further understandingand generate dialogue about the experiences of large bodiedfemale healthcare consumers. Participants included 22 women,who were purposively sampled, all of whom identified asoverweight or obese. Data was collected from two major sources:intensive interviews with participants and literature. For theparticipants in this study, being overweight or obese created asignificant barrier to positive clinical interactions with theirmedical professionals. Women described their interactions withmedical professionals, particularly general practitioners (GPs) asthe most challenging to manage. Participants believed that whenthey became patients, they were defined by their body size,which worked to create a one-dimensional identity – that of a fatpatient. These findings suggest that weight-related discriminationand stigma has a significant impact on both the clinicalinteraction, and the health and wellbeing of large bodied, femalehealthcare consumers.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Williams, DM
Keywords: Overweight, Obesity, Weight-related discrimination, stigma, qualitative
Journal or Publication Title: Health Sociology Review
Publisher: Routledge
ISSN: 1446-1242
DOI / ID Number:
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© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

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