UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

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

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Medical Education | Nutritional and Metabolic Diseases | Preventive Medicine


Physicians can play a vital role in counseling patients on overweight and obesity. This secondary analysis examined whether experiences in patient care specific to weight management before starting medical school were associated with students' intentions and confidence to provide weight management counseling (WMC) to patients who have overweight or obesity, and perceived impact as future physicians on patients' motivation to manage weight. First-year medical students (n = 1305) in the entering class of 2020 at eight medical schools nationwide completed questions relating to their prior experiences in patient care and WMC using the 5As. Also assessed were their intentions to treat patients with overweight or obesity, and confidence in counseling patients to help manage their weight. Over half the students (58.3%) who completed the survey had prior experience in patient care and nearly half (47.4%) began medical school with prior WMC experiences. Prior experiences correlated positively with higher confidence in performing WMC and students' intentions to treat patients with overweight or obesity. Given the relatively high rates of exposure to some type of weight management or lifestyle counseling among students before enrolling in medical school, the curriculum could build on established student interest and experience by offering treatment strategies including counseling for patients with overweight and obesity. By making prior experiences advantageous for admission, medical schools could gravitate towards admitting students who have brief but valuable insights about weight management in health care, thus increasing the possibility of filling important gaps.


5As, Medical students, Obesity, Overweight, Weight management counseling

Rights and Permissions

This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



Pendharkar JA, Frisard CF, Geller AC, Pbert L, Crawford S, Guck TP, Stadler DD, Ockene J. Weight management counseling experiences of first year medical students before starting medical school and their self-perceived impact on treating patients with obesity. Prev Med Rep. 2021 Jun 1;23:101411. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101411. PMID: 34150473; PMCID: PMC8193141. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Preventive medicine

PubMed ID


Creative Commons License

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.