Increasing Knowledge and Confidence in Behavioral Change: A Pilot Study



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Objective: To assess whether and how effectively an interactive presentation about lifestyle medicine could impact the knowledge and attitudes of medical students to prepare them for managing chronic conditions in their patients. Chronic diseases are increasingly prevalent and problematic. Although chronic disease management involves lifestyle modification, few physicians are adequately trained in effective motivational interventions.

Methods: We surveyed first- and second-year Harvard Medical School students in October 2015 before and after a presentation on lifestyle medicine and quantified changes in their knowledge, attitudes/confidence, and skills.

Results: Medical students learned the basics of behavioral change after a 1-hour presentation, and their confidence with regard to implementing interventions increased. Median scores of confidence in counseling patients on lifestyle changes improved as did their ability to counsel patients on exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and smoking cessation.

Conclusions: After a brief intervention, medical students can learn principles of behavioral management and how to implement the skills with patients suffering from chronic illnesses.

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2016;18(6):doi:10.4088/PCC.16m01962