PROBLEM: Stemming the rising levels of obesity is complicated. We at least (are starting to) know enough not to shame individuals for their weight. Doctors see us at our most vulnerable, and we certainly don't want to think that internal biases affect the way they treat us.
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METHODOLOGY: In a small study, researchers at Johns Hopkins University analyzed recordings made of 39 primary care physicians in Baltimore during routine visits with 208 of their patients with high blood pressure. They measured how much time the doctors spent discussing medical information, like tests and symptoms, psychological and lifestyle factors, like the state of the patients' social lives and the amount of diet and exercise they got, and "rapport building" -- how they engaged with the patients on a more personal level.
RESULTS: For the most part, the doctors appeared to be very egalitarian with their patients. There were no significant between-patient differences in any of their basic doctoring and counseling. And while there were no differences in how positive or social their interactions were, the doctors built less emotional rapport with their patients.