University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Division of Preventive and Behavioral Medicine, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences; UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center

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Health Communication | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Medical Education | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases


INTRODUCTION: Clinical guidelines support physician intervention consistent with the Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange framework for adults who have obesity. However, weight management counseling curricula vary across medical schools. It is unknown how frequently students receive experiences in weight management counseling, such as instruction, observation, and direct experience.

METHODS: A cross-sectional survey, conducted in 2017, of 730 third-year medical students in 8 U.S. medical schools assessed the frequency of direct patient, observational, and instructional weight management counseling experiences that were reported as summed scores with a range of 018. Analysis was completed in 2017.

RESULTS: Students reported the least experience with receiving instruction (6.5, SD=3.9), followed by direct patient experience (8.6, SD=4.8) and observational experiences (10.3, SD=5.0). During the preclinical years, 79% of students reported a total of < /=3 hours of combined weight management counseling instruction in the classroom, clinic, doctor's office, or hospital. The majority of the students (59%-76%) reported never receiving skills-based instruction for weight management counseling. Of the Ask, Advise, Assess, Assist, Arrange framework, scores were lowest for assisting the patient to achieve their agreed-upon goals (31%) and arranging follow-up contact (22%).

CONCLUSIONS: Overall exposure to weight management counseling was less than optimal. Medical school educators can work toward developing a more coordinated approach to weight management counseling. Inc.


weight management counseling, medical education, curriculum, medical schools, medical students

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© 2021 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



Ashe KM, Geller AC, Pendharkar JA, Pbert L, Crawford S, Clark MA, Frisard CF, Eno CA, Faro J, Ockene JK. Exposure to Weight Management Counseling Among Students at 8 U.S. Medical Schools. Am J Prev Med. 2021 May;60(5):711-715. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.10.026. Epub 2021 Feb 22. PMID: 33632652. Link to article on publisher's site

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Link to Article in PubMed

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American journal of preventive medicine

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.