The RESPECT Model: For the Sensitive Treatment of the Bariatric Patient

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Susan M. Bejciy-Spring, MS, RN
Department of Nursing Quality and Translational Research, The Ohio State University Health System, Columbus, OH

Learning Objective 1: describe the potential impact of weight bias and discrimination on the bariatric patient.

Learning Objective 2: explain the key principles and strategies of the RESPECT Model for the Sensitive Care of Bariatric Patients.

Given the pervasiveness of obesity in the general population of the United States and other nations and the number of co-morbid conditions associated with obesity, nurses throughout the global community are providing care to an increasing number of bariatric individuals who are looking for compassion and expertise in addressing their healthcare needs.  Providing care to bariatric patients often presents significant challenges to nurses and healthcare institutions. Addressing the size, shape, weight, and unique care needs of bariatric patients may require the use of special resources, equipment, and clinical procedures.  Unfortunately, the provision of quality care may be encumbered by bias, prejudice and discrimination toward the bariatric patient.  Research has demonstrated that weight bias exists within healthcare professions, including nursing, demonstrating the strength of the stigma of obesity.  Studies have also shown that when obese patients face situations of prejudice and discrimination in healthcare it often leads to reluctance to seek care or unwillingness to follow important healthcare instructions.

Nursing care that emphasizes sensitivity to bariatric patients is central to achieving optimal clinical outcomes and involves recognizing and addressing comfort, safety, and self-esteem needs while expertly attending to their health problems.  The RESPECT Model provides a framework for the provision of safe, quality, sensitive care to the bariatric patient:     

  • R – Rapport
  • E – Environment/Equipment
  • S – Safety
  • P – Privacy
  • E – Encouragement
  • C – Caring/Compassion
  • T – Tact

Clinical expertise and strong interpersonal skills have always been integral to quality patient care.  The foundation for quality care of the bariatric patient can be established and maintained by developing positive and trusting relationships, providing astute clinical care, guarding safety and privacy needs, and providing accessible and comfortable environments of care.  This presentation will describe the RESPECT Model and its principles and strategies in promoting the safe and sensitive care of this vulnerable patient population.