Obesity Science & Practice
Poor patient–provider interactions due to provider bias are associated with worse physiological and behavioural health outcomes for patients. Prior research has shown that patients with obesity perceive less favourable interactions compared with those with lower weights. This paper explores whether this association depends on patients' cumulative polygenic score with respect to genes linked to obesity (i.e. a single variable quantifying the individual's genome‐wide risk factors for high body mass index [BMI] or genetic liability) and whether providers react differentially to patients whose obesity is more genetic in nature compared with patients with diabetes caused by environmental factors.
The association between patients' BMI category, their polygenic score for high BMI and their interaction was assessed for two measures of the patient–provider interaction within a sample of 521 older patients with diabetes from the Health and Retirement Study.
Particularly for patients with obesity, the quality of the patient–provider interaction depended on genetic liability for high BMI controlling for demographic and clinical covariates. Providers responded less favourably to patients with diabetes influenced by environmental factors compared with individuals with high genetic liability.
Results of this study suggest that a patient's genotype may elicit particular responses from their healthcare provider. When a provider judges a patient's high BMI to be environmentally driven rather than genetically oriented, patients receive reduced quality of care.
Huibregtse, B. M., and Boardman, J. D. (2018) Provider bias as a function of patient genotype: polygenic score analysis among diabetics from the Health and Retirement Study. Obesity Science & Practice, 4: 448–454. https://doi.org/10.1002/osp4.293.
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