Do internists, pediatricians, and psychiatrists feel competent in obesity care?: using a needs assessment to drive curriculum design

J Gen Intern Med. 2008 Jul;23(7):1066-70. doi: 10.1007/s11606-008-0519-y.


Background: Physicians must effectively evaluate and treat obesity. To design a needs-driven curriculum intended to improve patient outcomes, physicians were surveyed about their self-perceived knowledge and skills.

Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the expressed needs of residents and faculty regarding obesity care training across three specialties.

Design: The study used a survey given to faculty and residents in General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry.

Methods: Survey questions were generated from comprehensive nutrition curriculum and clinical recommendations, administered online, and then organized around a validated behavioral health framework-the 5As (assess, advise, agree, assist, arrange). Analyses were conducted to evaluate differences in perceived knowledge and skills between specialties and across training levels.

Results: From an overall response rate of 65% (65 residents and 250 faculty members), nearly 20% reported inadequate competency in every item with 48% of respondents reporting an inability to adequately counsel patients about common treatment options. Internists reported the lowest competency in arranging referrals and follow-up. Psychiatrists reported the lowest competency in assessment skills.

Conclusions: This survey demonstrated a critical need for training in specific areas of obesity care. The proposed curriculum targets these areas taking into consideration observed differences across specialties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Competence
  • Curriculum
  • Data Collection
  • Educational Status
  • Faculty, Medical*
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Pediatrics / education*
  • Psychiatry / education*