BACKGROUND: There is
a developing interest in qualitative research to understand
the perspectives and experiences of people
living with obesity. However, obesity is a stigmatised condition associated
with negative stereotypes. Social contexts emphasizing large body size as a
problem, including research interviews,may amplify obesity
stigma. This study reviews the methodology
employed by qualitative studies in which study participants were obese and data
collection involved face-to-face interviews. METHODS: Database searches
identified qualitative studies meeting inclusion criteria from 1995 to 2012.
Following screening and appraisal data were systematically extracted and analyzed
from 31 studies. RESULTS: The studies included 1206 participants with a mean age of 44 years
and mean BMI of37 kg/m2.
Women (78.8%) outnumbered men (21.2%) by four to one. Socio-economic
background was not consistently reported. The studies employed similar,
typically pragmatic, qualitative methodologies, providing rich textual data
on the experience of obesity derived from face-to-face interviews. The majority
considered quality issues in data collection, analyses and generalizability
of findings. However, the studies were weak as regards researcher reflexivity
in relation to interviewer characteristics and obesity stigma. CONCLUSIONS:
The impact of obesity stigma has not been attended to in the qualitative research. Clear information about
Tong, A, Sainsbury, P. and Craig, J. (2007) Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): A 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 19, 349-357.
Pound, P. Britten, N. Morgan, M. Yardley, L. Pope, C. and Daker-White, G. (2005) Resisting medicines: A synthesis of qualitative studies of medicine taking. Social Science & Medicine, 61, 133-155.
Ali, H. Baynouna, L. and Bernsen, R. (2010) Barriers and facilitators of weight management: Perspectives of Arab women at risk for type 2 diabetes. Health and Social Care in the Community, 18, 219-228.
Befort, C.A., Thomas, J.L., Daley, C.M., Rhode, P.C. and Ahluwalia, J.S. (2008) Perceptions and beliefs about body size, weight, and weight loss among obese AfricanAmerican women: A qualitative inquiry. Health Education & Behavior, 35, 410-426.
Blixen, C. Singh, A. and Thacker, H. (2006) Values and beliefs about obesity and weight reduction among African-American and Caucasian women. Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 17, 290-297.
Brown, I. Thompson, J. Tod, A. and Jones, G. (2006) Primary care support for tackling obesity: A qualitative study of the perceptions of obese patients. British Journal of General Practice, 56, 666-672.
Byrne, S. Cooper, Z. and Fairburn, C. (2003) Weight maintenance and relapse in obesity: A qualitative study. International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders, 27, 955-962.
Greener, J. Douglas, F. and Van Teijlingen, E. (2010) More of the same? Conflicting perspectives of obesity causation and intervention amongst overweight people, health professionals and policy makers. Social Science & Medicine, 70, 1042-1049.
Heading, G. (2008) Rural obesity, healthy weight and perceptions of risk: Struggles, strategies and motivation for change. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 16, 86-91.
Heintze, C. Sonntag, S. Brinck, A. Huppertz, M. Niewohner, J. Wiesner, J. and Braun, V. (2012) A qualitative study on patients’ and physicians’ visions for the future management of overweight and obesity. Family Practice, 29, 103-109. doi:10.1093/fampra/cmr051
Herriot, A.M. Thomas, D.E. Hart, K.H. Warren, J. and Truby, H. (2008) A qualitative investigation of individuals’ experiences and expectations before and after completing a trial of commercial weight loss programmes. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 21, 72-80.
Jones, N. Furlanetto, D. Jackson, A. and Kinn, S. (2007) An investigation of obese adults’ views of the outcomes of dietary treatment. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 20, 486-494.
Lynch, C., Chang, J., Ford, A. and Ibrahim, S. (2007) Obese African-American women’s perspectives on weight loss and bariatric surgery. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 22, 908-914.
Ogden, J. and Sidhu, S. (2006) Adherence, behavior change, and visualization: A qualitative study of the experiences of taking an obesity medication. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 61, 545-552.
Ostberg, A., Wikstrand, I. and Bostrom, K. (2011) Group treatment of obesity in primary care practice: A qualitative study of patients’ perspectives. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, 39, 98-105.
Psarou, A. and Brown, I. (2010) Patients’ experiences of prescribed anti-obesity drugs and perceptions of support from primary care: A qualitative study. Primary Health Care Research & Development, 11, 250-259.
Smith, E., Sweeting, H. and Wright, C. (2012) ‘Do I Care?’ Young adults’ recalled experiences of early adolescent overweight and obesity: A qualitative study. International Journal of Obesity, 37, 303-308.
Thomas, S.L., Hyde, J., Karunaratne, A., Herbert, D. and Komesaroff, P.A. (2008) Being ‘fat’ in today’s world: A qualitative study of the lived experiences of people with obesity in Australia. Health Expectations, 11, 321-330.
Thomas, S.L., Hyde, J., Karunaratne, A., Kausman, R. and Komesaroff, P.A. (2008) “They all work...when you stick to them”: A qualitative investigation of dieting, weight loss, and physical exercise, in obese individuals. Nutrition Journal, 7, 34-44. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-34
Thomas, S., Karunaratne, A., Lewis, S., Castle, D., Knoesen, N. and Honigman, R. (2010) ‘Just bloody fat!’ A qualitative study of body image, self-esteem and coping in obese adults. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 12, 39-49.
Throsby, K. (2007) ‘How could you let yourself get like that?’: Stories of the origins of obesity in accounts of weight loss surgery. Social Science & Medicine, 65, 1561-1571. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2007.06.005
Weaver, N.F., Hayes, L., Unwin, N.C. and Murtagh, M.J. (2008) “Obesity” and “clinical obesity” men’s understandings of obesity and its relation to the risk of diabetes: A qualitative study. BMC Public Health, 8, 311-320.
Stringhini, S., Tabak, A., Akbaraly, T., Sabia, S., Shipley, M., et al. (2012) Contribution of modifiable risk factors to social inequalities in type 2 diabetes: Prospective Whitehall II cohort study. British Medical Journal, 345, e5452. doi:10.1136/bmj.e5452
Lewis, S., Thomas, S.L., Blood, R.W., Hyde, J., Castle, D.J. and Komesaroff, P.A. (2010) Do health beliefs and behaviors differ according to severity of obesity? A qualitative study of Australian adults. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 7, 443-459. doi:10.3390/ijerph7020443
Lewis, S., Thomas, S.L., Hyde, J., Castle, D., Blood, R.W. and Komesaroff, P.A. (2010) “I don’t eat a hamburger and large chips every day!” A qualitative study of the impact of public health messages about obesity on obese adults. BMC Public Health, 10, 309-320.