Promoting lifestyle self-awareness among the medical team by the use of an integrated teaching approach: a primary care experience

J Altern Complement Med. 2007 May;13(4):461-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2007.6313.


Objectives: Healthy lifestyle is recommended in clinical guidelines for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Research previously identified a gap between lifestyle recommendations and their implementation in clinical practice. In this paper, we describe a pilot educational program aimed to promote providers' awareness of their own lifestyles, and to explore whether increased personal awareness enhances providers' willingness to engage in lifestyle-change discussion with patients.

Methods: Two primary-care urban clinics in Northern Israel participated in the program, which consisted of a series of six biweekly educational sessions, each lasting 2-4 hours. Each session included both knowledge-based and experiential learning based on complementary medicine modalities. Surveys at the end of the program and a year later provided the program evaluation.

Results: Thirty-five personnel participated in the program. Thirteen (13) of the 20 participants (65%) reported an attitude change regarding eating habits after the program. At 1-year follow up, 24 of the 27 respondents (89%) stated that they were more aware of their eating habits and of their physical activity compared with precourse status. Twenty-three (23) of 27 respondents (85%) stated that after the program they were better prepared to initiate a conversation with their patients about lifestyle change.

Conclusions: An integrated educational approach based on knowledge-based and complementary and alternative medicine experiential modalities, aimed to facilitate self-awareness, may enhance learners' attitude change. The findings demonstrate readiness of learners to reexamine their lifestyles. Increased self-awareness helped participants to make a positive attitude change regarding eating habits and physical activity and was associated with participants' increased engagement in lifestyle-change discussions with patients. The teaching approach had longstanding effect, noted in the one-year follow-up.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Medical Staff / education*
  • Medical Staff / psychology
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Staff Development / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population