Title: Using digitally-enhanced reality to reduce obesity-related stigma
Description: Weight-related stigma is well established as a pervasive feature of societies and predicts higher risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidality, as well as greater risk of inflammation and chronic disease. Medical professionals consistently display high levels of anti-obesity bias, assume obesity suggests patient non-compliance, and admit they would prefer to avoid dealing with obese patients at all. A huge industry now exists around overcoming obesity and supporting weight management. However, much of the research suggests that reducing stigma will have a significantly greater impact on rates of obesity. The present study proposes to develop, deliver and evaluate an evidence-based VR intervention to foster empathy and reduce obesity-related stigma in target groups (e.g. medical students). This will be achieved by synergising current psychological research on empathy and stigma with state-of-the-art VR technologies. Intervention content will be developed using the ‘person-centred approach’ and outcomes assessed will include both psychological and behavioural indicators of success.