Medical students' self-perceived competence and prescription of patient-centered physical activity

Prev Med. 2009 Feb;48(2):164-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.12.006. Epub 2008 Dec 16.


Objective: The primary objective of this study was to explore medical students' perceptions of their own competence and the importance they assign to patient-centered physical activity (PA) prescription.

Methods: 246 undergraduate medical students (27% response rate) from two large universities in Western Canada completed an online survey designed to assess their perceived competence and importance related to patient-centered PA prescription. Data collection took place in September and October of 2007.

Results: While medical students perceived PA-related prescription to be important (M(response)=26.6 out of 36, SD=5.1), students perceived they had only moderate competence at conducting PA-related prescription (M(response)=20.7 out of 36, SD=6.8). Students achieving national PA guidelines perceived significantly higher competence than students not achieving PA guidelines. Students in their first or second year of medical school perceived PA-related prescription to be of higher importance than students in their third or fourth years.

Conclusion: Medical students indicated that patient-centered PA prescription was important. However, they indicated less than moderate competence at performing several fundamental PA prescription behaviors. This study suggests that medical students may not be adequately prepared to dispense patient-centered PA prescriptions with their patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alberta
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prescriptions*
  • Self Concept*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Young Adult