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Obesity and Health Care Experiences among Women and Men Veterans.

Breland JY, Wong MS, Frayne SM, Hoggatt KJ, Steers WN, Saechao F, Washington DL. Obesity and Health Care Experiences among Women and Men Veterans. Women's health issues : official publication of the Jacobs Institute of Women's Health. 2019 Jun 25; 29 Suppl 1:S32-S38.

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BACKGROUND: Obesity is highly stigmatized, especially for women, and therefore may negatively affect health care experiences. Past findings on the relationship between obesity and health care experiences are mixed, perhaps because few studies examine relationships by gender and obesity class. Our objective was to evaluate whether women and men with more severe obesity report worse health care experiences related to Veterans Health Administration (VA) care. METHODS: Health care experiences (self-management support, mental health assessments, office staff courtesy, communication with providers) and overall provider ratings were assessed with the 2014 VA Survey of Health Care Experiences of Patients. Using multiple regression analyses (n  =  13,462 women, n  =  268,180 men), we assessed associations among obesity classes, health care experiences, and overall provider ratings, adjusting for sociodemographic, health, and primary care use characteristics. RESULTS: The greatest differences in health care experiences between patients with and without obesity were in self-management support experiences, which were more favorable among women and men of all obesity classes. There were gender differences in associations between obesity and mental health assessments: for men, but not women, those in any obesity class gave higher ratings than those without obesity. For most other health care experiences and provider ratings, men with obesity reported slightly less favorable experiences than those without. There was no consistent pattern for women. CONCLUSIONS: It is promising that VA patients with obesity report more self-management support, given the behavior change required for weight management. Lower health care experience and provider ratings among men with obesity suggest a need to further investigate possible obesity-related stigma in VA primary care.

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