Date of Award

December 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Julia Snethen

Committee Members

Lori Klos, Jeanne Erickson, Joshua Gwon


Adolescent, Health, Health Care, Obesity


Clinic-based health care encounters (HCEs) remain a beneficial setting for early assessment, identification and treatment of overweight in adolescents. The purpose of this study is to describe how female adolescents who are obese or overweight perceive the health care encounter with a particular focus on obesity. Using a qualitative design, a purposive sample of 28 English speaking female adolescents, 13–19 years of age, who were overweight or obese, participated in in-depth interviews. Five themes emerged from the thematic analysis: Mental and physical wellness, The impact of weight, Cause I’m a teenager, Talking about weight affects me, and Help me instead of just telling me.

The findings from this study revealed that the adolescents’ view of health encompasses physical, mental, and psychosocial health dimensions. The female adolescents felt they were healthy, despite their increased weight. Discussing weight in the HCE can incite negative perceptions of the self. Within the HCE, the adolescents identified the desire for respect, to have autonomy, and to be an active participant in the decision-making process. Conversely, the adolescents felt their health care was inadequate when they received impersonal and vague advice on weight loss. Adolescents desired providers who were kind, friendly, and did not judge them based upon their weight. The most helpful recommendations providers provided were small, individualized goals that the adolescents felt they could successfully achieve.

The insights derived from female adolescents living with increased weight in this study can provide guidance on how providers can improve the HCE. Implications for nursing policy, education, and research emerged from the interviews with the participants.

Included in

Nursing Commons