Introduction: Adolescent obesity is a serious concern in the US, placing young people at risk for poor cardiovascular outcomes. Diminished trust in HCPs has been shown to inhibit use of health services among vulnerable populations, which ultimately results in delayed or foregone care.
Hypothesis: We assessed the hypothesis that obese adolescents have lower trust of healthcare provider than healthy weight adolescents.
Methods: Participants were 211 adolescents aged 14-19 years attending public high school in the Midwestern United States. Trust of healthcare provider was measured using the total trust score from the ten Likert items of the Interpersonal Trust in Physician Scale. BMI was determined using height and weight collected with a school screening. The relationship between trust of healthcare provider and BMI was evaluated using correlation. Differences between underweight, healthy weight, overweight, and obese BMI groups were evaluated using ANOVA.
Results: Overall, trust of healthcare provider had a small, negative correlation with BMI (r = -.17, p = .02), and a medium, negative correlation among girls (r = -.30, p = .002). There were no statistically significant linear relationships between trust of healthcare provider and BMI for boys. One-way ANOVA demonstrated significant differences in trust of healthcare provider scores according to BMI group among girls [F( 3, 99) = 4.3, p = .007] with a large effect size (eta2 = .12). Posthoc Tukey comparisons indicated the mean trust of healthcare provider scores were significantly different between the healthy BMI and obese BMI groups of adolescent girls.
Conclusion: In conclusion, obese adolescent girls reported lower trust of healthcare provider than reported by healthy weight adolescent girls. This difference in levels of trust may be related to obese adolescent girls’ perception of HCPs negative weight bias behaviors. Results of this study suggest healthcare providers should take care to promote and protect trust in the HCP-patient relationship with obese adolescent girls.