E. Harvey1, P. Thille1
1University of Manitoba, Physical Therapy, Winnipeg, Canada

Background: Public engagement (PE) in health services research creates opportunities for people with lived experience of a condition or system to influence research processes and outcomes. Finding ways to engage meaningfully with those experiencing stigmatizing care is crucial to health system improvement, though they are often identified as ‘hard to reach’ in PE. Arts-informed approaches have been identified as promising strategies to do so, as have trauma-informed ones.

Purpose: To complete and evaluate an arts-informed and trauma-aware PE strategy with people who have experienced weight stigmatizing physiotherapy services, to shape knowledge translation activities with physiotherapists.  

Methods: This qualitative PE study started with the creation of a public advisory group – eight volunteers who varied by age, abilities, and ethnic backgrounds, but were all cisgender women. The group met for two hours on four occasions in 2020. In these sessions, they set group communication norms, shared stories, talked about their concerns, and reviewed the results of a 2019 survey study titled “Physiotherapists Beliefs about Bodies and Health”(which includes a measure of physiotherapists’ fat acceptance attitudes). Together, we crafted key messages and a creative way to share their concerns and insights with physiotherapists. We sought anonymous feedback after each meeting.

Results: The advisory group co-created a gallery, with key messages communicated through images and audio. Key messages included: See me and my actual problem (not just what you assume); When I come here, I’m afraid you’re going to harm me or neglect me because I’m fat; Weight, size, and healthiness do not determine worth; Weight, size and healthiness (or unhealthiness) should not determine the quality of care I receive.
Anonymous feedback from the group members illustrates that they felt safe and supported throughout the process.  

Conclusion(s): The arts-informed approach allowed for “engagement with purpose” as the members worked together while sharing and responding to their personal stories. The gallery will be embedded in future knowledge translation and research studies with physiotherapists.

Implications: This trauma-informed, arts-based approach supported the development of collaborative, trusting relationships, which we will build upon for future studies, involving PE in all steps from design to knowledge translation.

Funding, acknowledgements: The University of Manitoba’s University Research Grants Program financially supported this study.

Keywords: weight stigma, public engagement, arts-informed methodology

Topic: Professional issues: diversity and inclusion

Did this work require ethics approval? Yes
Institution: University of Manitoba
Committee: Health Research Ethics Board
Ethics number: H2019:394 (HS23287)

All authors, affiliations and abstracts have been published as submitted.

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