Care of obese patients in Costa Rica : Nurses’ attitudes and experiences

University essay from Högskolan i Borås/Akademin för vård, arbetsliv och välfärd; Högskolan i Borås/Akademin för vård, arbetsliv och välfärd


Obesity is a serious growing public health issue in the world, and it is increasing rapidly in Latin America. Obese people are an exposed group of patients that are stigmatized for various reasons. Negative attitudes and stigma against obese patients among healthcare personnel and within the healthcare environment can affect their care negatively. This study aims to see if nurses in Costa Rica view and experience the healthcare environment as a stigmatizing place for obese patients and if they experienced any negative attitudes that may affect the care of obese patients. The aim is to examine nurses attitudes and experiences with obese patients in the healthcare environment in Costa Rica. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with seven registered nurses (RN). The semi-structured interview guide contained 11 questions in four different areas based on a survey about healthcare professionals attitudes about obesity (Attitudes Toward Obese People).

The registered nurses perceived obesity as a disease with uncontrollable causes as genetics and socioeconomic factors but also with self-inflicted factors as excessive eating of junk food and sedentary lifestyles. The lack of resources and time in the healthcare environment in general were major factors for the stigmatizing attitudes. Exhausted nurses could be more vulnerable for making mistakes and present bad attitudes. Despite the reported experiences of stigmatizing and negative attitudes in the healthcare environment none of the nurses felt that they had contributed to such attitudes. No particular differences between female and male attitudes were found through the interviews, but the female nurses pointed out that it is more difficult for a female to be obese in this superficial society.

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