, Volume 20, Issue 5, pp 386-391

Perceived preparedness to provide preventive counseling

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the perceived preparedness of residents in adult primary care specialties to counsel patients about preventive care and psychosocial issues.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional national mail survey of residents (63% response rate).

PARTICIPANTS: Nine hundred twenty-eight final-year primary care residents in Internal Medicine (IM), family practice (FP), and Obstetrics/Gynecology (OB/GYN) at 162 U.S. academic health centers.

MEASUREMENTS: Residents self-rated preparedness to counsel patients about smoking, diet and exercise, substance abuse, domestic violence, and depression.

RESULTS: Residents felt better prepared to counsel about smoking (62%) and diet and exercise (53%) than about depression (37%), substance abuse (36%), or domestic violence (21%). In most areas, females felt better prepared than males. Rates of counseling preparedness varied significantly by specialty after adjustment for gender, race, medical school location, and percent of training spent in ambulatory settings. FP residents felt better prepared than OB/GYN residents to counsel about smoking, diet and exercise, and depression, while OB/GYN residents felt better prepared to address domestic violence than IM or FP residents. IM residents’ perceptions of preparedness were between the other 2 specialties. Proportion of training spent in ambulatory settings was not associated with residents’ perceived preparedness.

CONCLUSIONS: Physicians completing residencies in adult primary care did not feel very well prepared to counsel patients about preventive and psychosocial issues. Significant differences exist among specialties, even after adjusting for differences in time spent in ambulatory settings. Increasing residency time in ambulatory settings may not alone be sufficient to ensure that residents emerge with adequate counseling skills.

The authors have no conflicts of interest in submission of this manuscript.
See editorial by Williams and Gerrrity, p. 450
This work was supported by a grant from the Common-wealth Fund, New York City, as part of the activities of the Commonwealth Task Force on Academic Health Centers, and by a grant (K24-HL04440) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.