Assessing the current and desired levels of training and applied experiences in chronic disease prevention of students during medical school

M. Stoutenberg, L. K. Lewis, R. M. Jones, F. Portacio, D. C. Vidot, Julie Kornfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Chronic diseases account for approximately 70% of deaths in the U.S. annually. Though physicians are uniquely positioned to provide behavior change counseling for chronic disease prevention, they often lack the necessary training and self-efficacy. This study examined medical student interest in receiving chronic disease prevention training as a formal part of their education as part of an effort to enhance their ability to provide guidance to patients in the future. METHODS: A 23-question, online survey was sent to all undergraduate medical students enrolled in a large medical education program. The survey assessed medical student interest in receiving training related to chronic disease prevention. Survey topics included student awareness of primary prevention programs, perceived importance of receiving training and applied experience in chronic disease prevention, and preferences for how and when to receive this training. RESULTS: Of 793 eligible medical students, 432 completed the survey (54.5%). Overall, 92.4% of students reported receiving formal training in physical activity, public health, nutrition, obesity, smoking cessation, and chronic diseases was of "very high" or "high" importance. Despite this level of importance, students most frequently reported receiving no or 1-5 h of formal training in a number of topics, including physical activity (35.4% and 47.0%, respectively) and nutrition (16.9% and 56.3%, respectively). The level of importance given to public health training was significantly greater across degree type (p = 0.0001) and future specialty (p = 0.03) for MD/MPH students and those interested in primary care, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: While medical students perceive chronic disease prevention as an important topic, most reported receiving little to no formal training. To address the growing prevalence of chronic disease across our society, programs schools should place greater emphasis on integrating training in physical activity, nutrition, and obesity-related content into the medical education curriculum.
Original languageEnglish
Article number54
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2023


  • Chronic Disease/prevention & control
  • Curriculum
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Public Health
  • Schools, Medical
  • Students, Medical/psychology


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