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Attitudes and beliefs in Swedish midwives and obstetricians towards obesity and gestational weight management.


ABSTRACT: Background: Gestational weight interventions are important in maternity care to counteract adverse pregnancy events. However, qualitative findings indicate potential obstacles in the implementation of interventions due to the sensitivity of the subject and existing obesity stigma. Pregnant women have reported disrespectful or unhelpful communication, while some midwives seem to avoid the topic, as not to upset women. This descriptive study aimed to provide knowledge about maternity care providers' beliefs about obesity, and their attitudes towards gestational weight management.

Method: A web survey was emailed to Swedish maternity care clinics. Existing questionnaires, "Beliefs About Obese People" (BAOP), "Perceived weight bias in health care" and "Attitudes toward obese patients" was used, supplemented with questions formulated for this study. An open free-text question allowed participants to provide a deeper and more nuanced picture of the topic.

Results: 274 respondents (75% midwives and 25% obstetricians) participated. One third of respondents found obesity to be a more sensitive topic than smoking or alcohol habits, and 17% of midwives agreed to the statement: "I sometimes avoid talking about weight so as not to make the pregnant woman worried or ashamed". Having had training in motivational interviewing seemed positively associated with midwives' inclination to talk about body weight, especially with women with obesity (p?=?.001), whereas years of working experience were not associated. Having received obesity education increased confidence in providing adequate information, but still only 46% felt they had enough knowledge to provide diet and exercise advice to pregnant women with obesity. Qualitative data revealed great empathy for women with obesity, and a wish to have more obesity education and access to other professionals.

Conclusion: Swedish maternity care staff displayed empathy for women with obesity and found gestational weight interventions important, but almost one fifth of midwives sometimes avoid the subject of body weight for fear of upsetting women. Education about obesity facts, training in person-centered communication, i.e. motivational interviewing, and access to dieticians may facilitate gestational weight management implementation.

SUBMITTER: Christenson A 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC7712607 | BioStudies | 2020-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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