Physicians' Dietary Knowledge, Attitudes, and Counseling Practices: The Experience of a Single Health Care Center at Changing the Landscape for Dietary Education

Am J Lifestyle Med. 2018 Nov 23;13(3):292-300. doi: 10.1177/1559827618809934. eCollection May-Jun 2019.


Morbidity and mortality associated with cardiovascular disease can be significantly modified through lifestyle interventions, yet there is little emphasis on nutrition and lifestyle in medical education. Improving nutrition education for future physicians would likely lead to improved preparedness to counsel patients on lifestyle interventions. An online anonymous survey of medical residents, cardiology fellows, and faculty in Internal Medicine and Cardiology was conducted at New York University Langone Health assessing basic nutritional knowledge, self-reported attitudes and practices. A total of 248 physicians responded (26.7% response rate). Nutrition knowledge was fair, but few (13.5%) felt adequately trained to discuss nutrition with patients. A majority (78.4%) agreed that additional training in nutrition would allow them to provide better clinical care. Based on survey responses, a dedicated continuing medical education (CME) conference was developed to improve knowledge and lifestyle counseling skills of healthcare providers. In postconference evaluations, attendees reported improved knowledge of evidence-based lifestyle interventions. Most noted that they would prescribe a Mediterranean or plant-based diet and would make changes to their practice based on the conference. An annual CME conference on diet and lifestyle can effectively help interested providers overcome barriers to lifestyle change in clinical practice through improved nutrition knowledge.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; continuing education; lifestyle; medical education; nutrition; prevention.