Primary care providers now have access to continuing medical education on obesity care from a team of West Virginia University obesity experts.
Created by Drs. Laura Davisson, Joanna Bailey and Treah Haggerty, “Obesity Medical Education for Primary Care” is a three-part series of web courses that cover the basics of obesity care, such as how to talk to patients about their weight and how to encourage lifestyle changes.
“We tried to keep the modules very practical, interactive and engaging on the virtual platform,” Davisson said.
The first course is Diagnosis, Weight Bias and Behavior Change; the second is Diet, Sleep and Activity, and Cases and Lifestyle Changes; and the third is Medication Associated Weight Gain, Optimizing Chronic Medications, and Putting it All Together.
The courses are free to the first 65 people who request credit, thanks to funding from the WVU School of Medicine HOPE Awards.
The team plans to build on these basic courses to offer more advanced topics, such as bariatric surgery, meal replacement and shared medical programs.
Over the summer, Davisson and Haggerty launched a statewide needs assessment to determine what primary care providers were interested in learning about obesity care and how they would like to receive training.
While the results are still being analyzed, Davisson said the primary care providers who responded felt confident in their knowledge about food, diet and behavioral changes to help with weight management, as well as counseling and motivational interviewing.
“Even though the providers felt well versed, they also responded that they wanted more education on those topics. We were surprised that their highest level of interest was what they already thought they were good at,” Davisson said.
She and her team incorporated the topics the providers indicated they wanted, as well as those with the lowest baseline knowledge, such as pharmacology related to weight.
Of the learning options, the virtual format was the highest rated — a result Davisson believes was underscored by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nearly 99% of respondents said that obesity intervention should be part of primary care practice and 96% felt a need to strengthen medical training in obesity care, which were two findings by which Davisson was particularly encouraged.
The team expects their initial findings from the assessment to be published in the WV Medical Journal in the coming months.
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