Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 23, Issue 7, pp 1066–1070 | Cite as

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

Using a Needs Assessment to Drive Curriculum Design
  • Melanie JayEmail author
  • Colleen Gillespie
  • Tavinder Ark
  • Regina Richter
  • Michelle McMacken
  • Sondra Zabar
  • Steven Paik
  • Mary Jo Messito
  • Joshua Lee
  • Adina Kalet
Innovations in Education



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.

Key words

obesity care weight loss medical education (education, medical) obesity curriculum 



We would like to thank the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Academic Administrative Units in Primary Care for funding this project. We would also like to thank Scott Sherman and Mack Lipkin for their help with this manuscript.

Grant Funding: 12-191-1077 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Academic Administrative Units in Primary Care, 11/05–11/08.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melanie Jay
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  • Colleen Gillespie
    • 1
  • Tavinder Ark
    • 1
  • Regina Richter
    • 1
  • Michelle McMacken
    • 1
  • Sondra Zabar
    • 1
  • Steven Paik
    • 2
  • Mary Jo Messito
    • 2
  • Joshua Lee
    • 1
  • Adina Kalet
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of General Internal MedicineNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsNew York University School of MedicineNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.VA New York HarborNew YorkUSA

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