Publication Date



weight stigma, weight bias, rural, health care, low income, disparities


Purpose: Weight stigma has become widespread within health care and disproportionately affects women, who are under greater appearance-based scrutiny than men. It is also well established that rural-based individuals with low incomes suffer greater health disparities compared with urban, higher-income counterparts, yet studies examining recommendations for nonstigmatizing health care among higher-weight women from low-income rural settings are lacking. This study examined the experiences and recommendations of higher-weight, low-income, rural women, with the aim of improving health care for similar populations.

Methods: In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted in a rural region of the Midwestern United States to explore participants’ recommendations for redressing stigma within health care. All participants (n = 25) self-identified as higher-weight, low-income, rural women.

Results: All participants experienced or were aware of weight stigma within health care. Themes identified from responses were understanding patients and their situations, offering options and supplemental information, communicating effectively, taking time, and having a positive attitude. Patient recommendations focused on correcting physician biases, rapport-building, and providing holistic care.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that weight stigma is prevalent within health care provided to low-income women in rural U.S. Midwest and that there are specific communication and training approaches that may reduce the prevalence of weight stigma in health care.




February 28th, 2020


July 13th, 2020


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