Objective: The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of obesity bias among preclinical and clinical chiropractic students and faculty at an integrative health care academic institution.
Methods: This was a cross-sectional quantitative, single-method survey with group comparison using the Beliefs About Obese Persons scale (BAOP) and the Attitudes Toward Obese Persons scale. Both instruments were administered as a single 28 question survey via email to 450 students and 46 faculty members in a doctor of chiropractic (DC) program. Differences were determined by 2 tailed t tests.
Results: The response rate for faculty and students was 31% and 65%, respectively. One hundred forty-three DC students, preclinical (n = 65) and clinical (n = 78), and 30 DC faculty, preclinical (n = 15) and clinical (n = 15) completed the survey. Both students and faculty harbored antiobesity attitudes and moderate antiobesity beliefs. Students demonstrated slightly more positive attitudes toward obese persons than did preclinical faculty. Although preclinical faculty did not demonstrate more biased attitudes than did preclinical students (p = .057), they were more biased than clinical students (p = .26). On the BAOP, preclinical faculty scored significantly lower than both preclinical students and clinical students (p = .013 and .017, respectively).
Conclusion: Obesity bias was common among clinical and preclinical chiropractic students and faculty at our institution. A cultural shift that reduces bias may require changes in both the curriculum and cocurriculum.
Author keywords: Attitude of Health Personnel, Bias, Students, Health Occupations, Obesity, Prejudice
Author affiliations: GEK: Department of Nutrition, Southern California University Health Sciences, Whittier, CA; HGT: Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine, Tempe, AZ
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