Weight management counseling experiences of first year medical students before starting medical school and their self-perceived impact on treating patients with obesity

Jyothi A. Pendharkar, Christine F. Frisard, Alan C. Geller, Lori Pbert, Sybil Crawford, Thomas P. Guck, Diane D. Stadler, Judith Ockene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Physicians can play a vital role in counseling patients on overweight and obesity. This secondary analysis examined whether experiences in patient care specific to weight management before starting medical school were associated with students’ intentions and confidence to provide weight management counseling (WMC) to patients who have overweight or obesity, and perceived impact as future physicians on patients’ motivation to manage weight. First-year medical students (n = 1305) in the entering class of 2020 at eight medical schools nationwide completed questions relating to their prior experiences in patient care and WMC using the 5As. Also assessed were their intentions to treat patients with overweight or obesity, and confidence in counseling patients to help manage their weight. Over half the students (58.3%) who completed the survey had prior experience in patient care and nearly half (47.4%) began medical school with prior WMC experiences. Prior experiences correlated positively with higher confidence in performing WMC and students’ intentions to treat patients with overweight or obesity. Given the relatively high rates of exposure to some type of weight management or lifestyle counseling among students before enrolling in medical school, the curriculum could build on established student interest and experience by offering treatment strategies including counseling for patients with overweight and obesity. By making prior experiences advantageous for admission, medical schools could gravitate towards admitting students who have brief but valuable insights about weight management in health care, thus increasing the possibility of filling important gaps.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101411
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
Volume23
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2021

Keywords

  • 5As
  • Medical students
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Weight management counseling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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