Exploring primary care providers’ understandings of body image in patient care
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Research has shown that healthcare providers lack confidence in having the knowledge needed to have conversations about body image with their patients. No research to date has explicitly explored how providers in primary healthcare understand body image, including its definition and how it impacts plans for care. Accordingly, the current study explored how primary healthcare providers define body image and how they see the concept of body image manifest in their practice. A total of 21 participants were interviewed, including 3 registered dietitians, 6 occupational therapists, 4 physiotherapists, 1 registered massage therapist, 1 kinesiologist, 4 family physicians, 1 nurse, and 1 social worker. Using thematic analysis, it was found that gaps in knowledge about body image were quite apparent as participants' understanding of body image was slippery (e.g., they struggled to articulate specifics about the concept within care and recognized body image is not something associated with a clinical guideline that would bring form to the concept). However, healthcare providers believed in the importance of body image in their patients' care in broad and far reaching ways. Future directions for bridging the knowledge gap with respect to body image among primary healthcare providers are discussed.
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