The impact of primary care resident physician training on patient weight loss at 12 months

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2013 Jan;21(1):45-50. doi: 10.1002/oby.20237.


Objective: It is unclear whether training physicians to counsel obese patients leads to weight loss. This study assessed whether a 5-h multimodal longitudinal obesity curriculum for residents on the basis of the 5As (assess, advise, agree, assist, and arrange) was associated with weight loss in their obese patients.

Design and methods: Twenty-three primary care internal medicine residents were assigned by rotation schedule to intervention (curriculum) or control groups. We then conducted follow-up chart reviews to determine weight change at up to 12 months following the index visit. 158 obese patients (76 in the intervention group and 82 in the control group) completed exit interviews; 22 patients who presented for acute care at the index visit were excluded. Chart reviews were conducted on the 46 patients in the intervention group and 41 patients in the control group who were seen again within 12 months of the index visit and had follow-up weight measurements.

Results: The main outcome of interest was mean change in weight at 12 months compared between the intervention and control groups. Patients of residents in the intervention group had a mean weight loss of -1.53 kg (s.d. = 3.72) although the patients of those in the control group had a mean weight gain of 0.30 kg (s.d. = 3.60), P = 0.03. Six (15.8%) patients in the intervention group and 2 (5.4%) patients in the control group lost >5% body weight (P = 0.14).

Conclusions: Although the magnitude of weight loss was small, this study shows that training physicians to counsel patients can produce measurable patient outcomes.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Counseling*
  • Curriculum
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Internal Medicine / education*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Weight Gain
  • Weight Loss*