Psychosocial and Attributional Factors Associated with Weight Bias among Health Professional Trainees

Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Obesity (body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2) is a serious condition associated with an increased risk of developing various comorbidities. Healthcare professional trainees may not be aware of their potential weight bias toward patients with obesity. The purpose of this study was to determine the psychosocial and attributional factors that are associated with levels of weight bias among health professional trainees. This study employed a quantitative, cross-sectional, and correlational study design. Participants (N = 211) were recruited from a graduate health professional school consisting of students in doctoral programs of osteopathic medicine, clinical psychology, school psychology, pharmacy, and physical therapy and in master’s programs of physician assistant, mental health counseling, and school psychology. Students anonymously completed the following online questionnaires: Attitudes Toward Obese Persons (ATOP), Causes of Obesity, and Ten-Item Personality Inventory (TIPI). Demographic questions asked about weight status, biological sex, and age. Results indicated a relationship between psychosocial factors and weight bias (p < .001); specifically, lower levels of weight bias were related to males (p < .000), extraversion (p < .036), and agreeableness (p < .004). Higher levels of weight bias were related to openness (p < .036). There was no relationship between conceptualization of obesity and weight bias. Further, there was no significance in levels of weight bias across health disciplines. The mean ATOP score for the student sample was 57.4 (SD 8.1), indicating a high level of weight bias. Though the hypotheses were not supported, results provide a greater understanding of the levels of weight bias in health professional trainees to inform future interventions.

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