Benchmarking of provider competencies and current training for prevention and management of obesity among family medicine residency programs: a cross-sectional survey

Orjuela-Grimm, Manuela; Butsch, W. S.; Bhatt-Carreño, Silvia; Smolarz, B. G.; Rao, Goutham

U.S. physicians lack training in caring for patients with obesity. For family medicine, the newly developed Obesity Medicine Education Collaborative (OMEC) competencies provide an opportunity to compare current training with widely accepted standards. We aimed to evaluate the current state of obesity training in family medicine residency programs.

We conducted a study consisting of a cross-sectional survey of U.S. family medicine residency program leaders. A total of 735 directors (including associate/assistant directors) from 472 family medicine residency programs identified from the American Academy of Family Physicians public directory were invited via postal mail to complete an online survey in 2018.

Seventy-seven program leaders completed surveys (16% response rate). Sixty-four percent of programs offered training on prevention of obesity and 83% provided training on management of patients with obesity; however, 39% of programs surveyed reported not teaching an approach to obesity management that integrates clinical and community systems as partners, or doing so very little. Topics such as behavioral aspects of obesity (52%), physical activity (44%), and nutritional aspects of obesity (36%) were the most widely covered (to a great extent) by residency programs. In contrast, very few programs extensively covered pharmacological treatment of obesity (10%) and weight stigma and discrimination (14%). Most respondents perceived obesity-related training as very important; 65% of the respondents indicated that expanding obesity education was a high or medium priority for their programs. Lack of room in the curriculum and lack of faculty expertise were reported as the greatest barriers to obesity education during residency. Only 21% of the respondents perceived their residents as very prepared to manage patients with obesity at the end of the residency training.

Family medicine residency programs are currently incorporating recommended teaching to address OMEC competencies to a variable degree, with some topic areas moderately well represented and others poorly represented such as pharmacotherapy and weight stigma. Very few program directors report their family medicine residents are adequately prepared to manage patients with obesity at the completion of their training. The OMEC competencies could serve as a basis for systematic obesity training in family medicine residency programs.

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BMC Family Practice

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September 22, 2023


Obesity, Education, Internship and residency, Family practice, Graduate medical education, Primary health care