Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science

First Advisor

Kristen Clark

Second Advisor

Kerry Nolte


Objectives: To investigate the incidence of fatphobic behaviors among the healthcare team and how nursing students’ and recent graduates’ observations of fatphobic behaviors impact the provision of affirming care.

Background: Weight stigma among healthcare providers can lead to fatphobia (e.g., hurtful or stigmatizing language, dismissal of symptoms). These experiences can negatively impact patients’ health and experiences with healthcare, leading some patients to avoid or delay seeking healthcare services. Fatphobia can also cause increased stress levels among patients, which places them at a higher risk of several diseases. The short-term and long-term effects of fatphobia lead overall worse health outcomes.

Methods: A mixed-methods approach was used to develop a survey and distribute among undergraduate nursing students and recent graduates. Data collected included demographics, a Fat Phobia Scale, and both quantitative and qualitative questions about instances of observed fatphobia.

Results: Participants (N=67) reported engaging in fatphobic behaviors themselves (n=20, 30%) and observing fatphobic behavior by their clinical instructor (n=14, 21%), nurse (n=23, 34%), and provider (n=20, 30%) engage in at least one fatphobic behavior. Participants also reported that others’ engagement in these behaviors makes it more difficult for them to provide affirming care (n=21, 31%).

Conclusions: Nursing students and new graduates are observing multiple roles engage in multiple types of fatphobic behavior, which is making it more challenging for them to provide affirming care. Further research is needed on methods of reducing weight bias in healthcare.

Included in

Nursing Commons