Comparison of body perceptions between obese primary care patients and physicians: Implications for practice

Kim M. Pulvers, Harsohena Kaur, Nicole L. Nollen, K. Allen Greiner, Christie A. Befort, Sandra Hall, Wendi Born, Marian L. Fitzgibbon, Jasjit S. Ahluwalia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the body image and weight perceptions of primary care patients and their physicians as a first step toward identifying a potential tool to aid physician-patient communication. Methods: Patients with a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 (n = 456, 66% female) completed body image and weight status measures after office visits; physicians (n = 29) rated the body figures and weight status of these same patients after office visits. Results: Controlling for BMI, female patients and their physicians showed little or no difference in body figure selection or weight status classification, whereas male patients were significantly less likely than their physicians to self-identify with larger body figures (z = 3.74, p < 0.01) and to classify themselves as obese or very obese (z = 4.83, p < 0.0001). Conclusion: Findings reveal that physicians and female patients have generally concordant views of the patient's body size and weight status, whereas male patients perceive themselves to be smaller than do their physicians. The discrepancy between male patient and physician views is especially evident at increasingly larger body figure/weight status categories. Practice implications: When counseling male patients on weight loss, it could be helpful to assess body image and use this information to raise patient awareness of their size and to facilitate communication about weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-81
Number of pages9
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Sunflower Foundation of Topeka, Kansas.


  • Body image
  • Men's health
  • Obesity
  • Primary care
  • Weight management


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