, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1066-1070
Date: 10 Jul 2008

Do Internists, Pediatricians, and Psychiatrists Feel Competent in Obesity Care?

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Physicians must effectively evaluate and treat obesity. To design a needs-driven curriculum intended to improve patient outcomes, physicians were surveyed about their self-perceived knowledge and skills.


The objective of this study was to determine the expressed needs of residents and faculty regarding obesity care training across three specialties.


The study used a survey given to faculty and residents in General Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, and Psychiatry.


Survey questions were generated from comprehensive nutrition curriculum and clinical recommendations, administered online, and then organized around a validated behavioral health framework—the 5As (assess, advise, agree, assist, arrange). Analyses were conducted to evaluate differences in perceived knowledge and skills between specialties and across training levels.


From an overall response rate of 65% (65 residents and 250 faculty members), nearly 20% reported inadequate competency in every item with 48% of respondents reporting an inability to adequately counsel patients about common treatment options. Internists reported the lowest competency in arranging referrals and follow-up. Psychiatrists reported the lowest competency in assessment skills.


This survey demonstrated a critical need for training in specific areas of obesity care. The proposed curriculum targets these areas taking into consideration observed differences across specialties.