Struggling to care: Nurses' perceptions of caring for obese patients in an Australian bariatric ward

Jeffrey, Carol A; Kitto, Simon
April 2006
Health Sociology Review;Apr2006, Vol. 15 Issue 1, p71
Academic Journal
With the virtual epidemic of obesity worldwide, the number of obese patients receiving acute care and other services is expected to increase sharply. This study explores nurses' perceptions and experiences of caring for obese patients in the context of an acute general surgical ward. This ward, within a major metropolitan private hospital in Australia, specialises in bariatric surgery. Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted and thematic analysis employed to analyse the transcripts. From this analysis, several themes emerged: competing perceptions of obesity, ambivalence to weight-loss-surgery (WLS), and obese patient responsibility. Three particular discourses were identified: discourses of medicine, nursing and neo-liberalism. Each offers a different mode of caring for the body, and this study reveals how nurses, in caring for obese patients, function within these competing and often contradictory discourses.


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