Obesity education for front-line healthcare providers

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Sanchez-Ramirez, Diana C
Long, Heather
Mowat, Stephanie
Hein, Casey
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Abstract Background To assess the effect of an interprofessional educational activity on professional skills, attitudes, and perceived challenges toward obesity management among front-line healthcare providers. Methods A one-day interprofessional obesity education activity was organized for healthcare providers across various disciplines. All participants were invited to complete an anonymous survey pre- and post-event, and at six-month post-event. The survey was created based on a comprehensive list of perceived skills, professional attitudes and challenges toward obesity intervention compiled from existing literature. Results Sixty-seven healthcare providers completed the survey pre- and post-event. Participants reported increases in professional skills such as their ability to assess weight (p = 0.04), to address weight management issues (p < 0.001), to teach/motivate patients toward physical activity (p < 0.001) and healthy eating practices (p = 0.001), to use behavior modification techniques (p < 0.001), and to deal with family issues (p < 0.001). Professional attitudes: practitioners felt more educated/competent in obesity management (P < 0.001), learned where to refer patients (p < 0.001), were more comfortable in discussing obesity in managing obesity (p < 0.001), were less likely to avoid the topic (p = 0.004) and felt less frustrated with the low success rate (p = 0.030). Enhancement in professional attitudes remained 6 months after the event. Improvements were mainly associated with male gender, younger age, fewer years of professional practice and healthcare professionals other than physicians. No statistically significant changes in perceived challenges were found after the educational event. Conclusion Results of this study showed that this interprofessional learning activity contributed to the improvement of professional skills and attitudes of front-line healthcare providers caring for those who are obese or at risk for obesity. The positive results of this interprofessional learning activity aligns with the training needs identified by healthcare practitioners in previous studies, and suggest that this design and content could be used to guide future educational programming in the care of obese people.
BMC Medical Education. 2018 Nov 23;18(1):278