Background: The burden of chronic disease in the USA necessitates a shift in medicine and medical education from disease treatment to health and wellness promotion. At the forefront of this shift is the field of lifestyle medicine - the evidence-based use of lifestyle modification to prevent, treat and reverse disease. Health care providers, including physician assistants (PAs), can be the vehicle of behaviour change for patients, families and communities, and must receive adequate training to practice lifestyle medicine.
Methods: We describe a pilot lifestyle medicine curriculum implemented through a PA training programme run in the USA in the academic year 2016/2017. The curriculum included four taught modules on lifestyle medicine, two assessment activities and a survey of self-perceived competency, measured before and after the programme.
Results: Forty students participated in the curriculum. Results showed a significant increase in self-perceived competencies in seven of nine lifestyle medicine areas (p < 0.001). After the curriculum, all students were successfully able to provide a written lifestyle medicine prescription for a mock patient, with the most common prescription topics including nutrition-related prescriptions (41%), followed by physical activity (26%), addressing substance use (10%), mental health or stresses (10%) and sleep (7%). Furthermore, on average students were able to correctly identify 70% of the desired recommendations for a mock patient.
Conclusion: Lifestyle medicine curricula can be successfully integrated into existing PA curricula, with demonstrated increases in self-assessments of competency and practical skills.
© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd and The Association for the Study of Medical Education.