Family physicians prescribing lifestyle medicine: feasibility of a national training programme

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Abstract

Background

The actual causes of the preponderance of non-communicable chronic diseases are related to unhealthy behaviours, such as poor nutrition, physical inactivity and tobacco use. Our goal was to evaluate the feasibility of training in lifestyle medicine (LM) for family physicians, which could be included in ‘Healthy Israel 2020’, a national initiative created to enhance the health of Israelis.

Methods

Twenty-six providers participated in a 1-year certificate of completion in LM. A control group included 21 providers who participated in a similar musculoskeletal training programme. Pre/post data were collected in both groups of participants’ attitudes and self-efficacy to prescribe LM and personal health behaviours. Mid/post feedback was collected in the study group participants.

Results

Physicians in the LM training represented a nationwide distribution and attended >80% of the programmes’ meetings. They reported positive outcomes in most areas after the intervention compared with baseline. Five variables reached statistical significance: potential to motivate patients to improve exercise behaviours (p<0.05), confidence in one's knowledge about LM (p=0.01) and counselling (p<0.01), particularly related to exercise (p=0.02) and smoking cessation (p<0.05). The control group demonstrated one significant change: potential to motivate patients to change behaviours to lose weight (p<0.05).

Conclusions

A training programme in LM appears feasible and could have a positive impact on interested family physicians’ attitudes and confidence in prescribing LM. Thus, ‘Healthy Israel 2020’ and other programmes worldwide, which aim to improve health behaviours and decrease the impact of chronic diseases, might consider including family physicians training.

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