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Davis

Davis, California

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Weight measurements no longer required to receive care at Student Health and Counseling Services

New “Decline to Weigh” policy and other recent body inclusivity initiatives seek to increase patient comfort during appointments and reduce weight stigma on campus

 

By JADE BELL — campus@theaggie.org

 

A patient satisfaction survey conducted by Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS) during the summer of 2020 revealed that one of the main deterrents of students seeking out medical care at the SHCS facility was the required weight measurement at appointments. As a result, SHCS created and implemented of a new policy that allows students to decline being weighed if it is not necessary to their appointment purpose.

Shantille Connolly, a health promotion specialist at SHCS, explained the details and results of this survey.

“We are tracking the number of people who have opted out of being weighed,” Connolly said. “So far, in this school year, 318 students declined to be weighed when they came in for an appointment. In fall quarter, we were using a card system […], but now we changed it to where the MA just asks, ‘Would you like to be weighed today?’ And then the patient can say yes or no.”

Connolly said that in February, before the change was implemented, only around 15 students took advantage of the card to decline to be weighed. By comparison, when the new practice was implemented in March, 137 students declined to be weighed. 

“It really shows that when you change the practices of an organization, it increases access and gives the patients more autonomy,” Connolly said.

Medically speaking, according to Connolly, it’s not always necessary to weigh a student if that’s not the main point of their appointment. However, she noted that in instances where an exact weight is necessary, it will now be recorded in a way that allows the patients to remain unaware of the number on the scale.

“Some medications are weight-based in order for them to effectively work, so we do have the option for a blind weight,” Connolly said. “[This] is where they turn their back toward the scale, so they don’t have to see the number. [The MA] would tell the patient that the medication they are in for is weight-based, so they need an accurate weight to prescribe the correct dosage.”

In addition to the measures being implemented by SHCS, Connolly said that similar steps are being taken across campus to “build and maintain a body-inclusive environment.” She attributed some of this to a response to student feedback collected via the free response survey that SHCS ran. 

“The bookstore, for example, was talked about a lot for not having a variety of sizes available,” Connolly said. “Keep in mind that this was in 2020, so things have changed — they have changed their clothing vendors specifically to go with clothing vendors who have a wide variety of sizes. The bookstore is trying to be more intentional about that […] as a result of the survey.”

SHCS also received feedback from students in regards to how they felt in classroom spaces, in particular, how lecture hall seating affected their mental health and academic performance.

“We just did a pilot [program] in Olson Hall,” Connolly said via email. “We wanted to know how classroom seating that was not size-inclusive was negatively impacting students’ mental health. And we found that students were really anxious and stressed about coming to class because they couldn’t find seats that fit their body [and] couldn’t focus because they were in seats that were digging into their sides or they couldn’t position their laptop or iPad to take notes appropriately. So it impacted their academic performance and just overall sense of belonging.”

Connolly addressed these issues by sharing what campus policy updates are being made to better accommodate all bodies in classroom seating.

“We did update the campus policy — all new furniture that is purchased should be at least 400 pounds in weight capacity, 22 inches wide and armless whenever possible,” Connolly said. “That policy was enacted before the Teaching and Learning Complex was complete, so all the furniture in there complies with that policy.” 

Written by: Jade Bell — campus@theaggie.org