Medical EducationOriginal Article

Influence of Osteopathic Medical Students’ Personal Health on Attitudes Toward Counseling Obese Pediatric Patients

Jonathon Whipps, MS; Sophia C. Mort, OMS, II; Elizabeth A. Beverly, PhD; and Emily Hill Guseman, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: January 28, 2019

Accepted: February 15, 2019

Published: August 1, 2019

J Osteopath Med; 119(8): 488-498

Context: Research has shown that physicians with positive health and lifestyle behaviors have more positive attitudes toward effective counseling, but little is known about how personal health behaviors of medical students influence their attitudes regarding pediatric obesity counseling before entering practice.

Objectives: To determine whether the personal health status and habits of osteopathic medical students influence their attitudes toward counseling obese pediatric patients regarding lifestyle behaviors.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was distributed electronically to first- through fourth-year osteopathic medical students. The survey assessed students’ personal lifestyle habits and their top anticipated barriers to providing pediatric weight counseling.

Results: A total of 200 participants completed the survey. National physical activity recommendations were met by 81 participants (40.5%). These 81 participants had significantly more positive attitudes toward pediatric physical activity counseling than participants who did not meet the recommendations (H=−35.06, P=.001) or those who only met resistance training recommendations (H=40.63, P=.021). Participants with obesity had significantly lower pediatric weight management counseling scores than overweight participants (H=40.77, P=.028). Thirty-one participants (15.5%) consumed a healthy amount of both vegetables and fruit. These 31 participants had significantly higher dietary mean item counseling scores than those who did not (H=−30.40, P=.048). Participants identified the barriers “Time” (137 [68.5%]) and “Difficult for patients to change behavior” (99 [49.5%]) most frequently. Clinical participants identified “Poor or lacking reimbursement” (21 [28.0%]) more frequently than preclinical participants (12 [9.6]).

Conclusions: Medical students who exhibited healthier lifestyle habits were more likely to positively view pediatric obesity management counseling.

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