The clinical relevance of physical activity education in medical school

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

The clinical relevance of physical activity education in medical school

 

Citation: Med Educ Online 2016, 21: 30693 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/meo.v21.30693

Copyright: © 2016 Shaan Rashid et al. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.

Published: 14 January 2016

 

Physical activity is a vital component of good health, and it also helps reduce the severity of many chronic conditions (1). Currently, evidence suggests that physical activity counselling to patients by healthcare professionals is not being fully utilised (2). In a recent article, Dacey et al. (3) assessed the impact of medical school education on counselling knowledge and skills by future clinicians.

Although the study lacked conclusive evidence regarding the effect of medical school education and counselling knowledge/skill (because of the limited number of randomised controlled trials and homogenous outcome measures), it is a plausible assumption that doctors, having been taught how to prescribe exercise, would in turn counsel their patients effectively.

However, the article does not consider other factors, in addition to medical school education, which can have an impact on physical activity counselling by healthcare professionals.

One such factor is patient compliance. Justine et al. (4) showed that lack of time, finances, and motivation can be strong barriers to physical exercise. In addition, even if a clinician has been taught how to successfully counsel a patient, factors such as lack of consultation time may influence its implementation.

In addition, the lack of public facilities and initiatives to encourage people to exercise can also limit the amount of physical activity undertaken. From a different perspective, the organisation of the healthcare system of a country may impact the effectiveness of physical activity counselling on patients. For instance, in the United Kingdom, general practitioners (GPs) are the primary point of contact for many chronic conditions, and so educating all GPs about the effects of physical activity could have a greater impact on general health in a nation.

These wider factors lie outside the remit of counselling from the clinician and therefore the actual clinical outcomes from educating medical students regarding physical activity counselling remains unknown.

In conclusion, educating medical students about the importance of physical activity is an important aspect of the medical curricula, which is being omitted in many universities across the world. However, other factors need to be considered when assessing the clinical benefit of physical activity counselling.

Shaan Rashid
Imperial College London
School of Medicine
London, UK
Email: sr3011@ic.ac.uk

Omer A. Jamall
Imperial College London
School of Medicine
London, UK

Sheeraz Iqbal
Imperial College London
School of Medicine
London, UK

Abeer F. Rizvi
Imperial College London
School of Medicine
London, UK

Osman Nayeem
Imperial College London
School of Medicine
London, UK

A. M. Hameed Khan
Imperial College London
School of Medicine
London, UK

References

  1. Haskell WL, Lee IM, Pate RR, Powell KE, Blair SN, Franklin BA, et al. Physical activity and public health: updated recommendation for adults from the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association. Circulation 2007; 116: 1081–93. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text
  2. Hebert ET, Caughy MO, Shuval K. Primary care providers’ perceptions of physical activity counselling in a clinical setting: a systematic review. Br J Sports Med 2012; 46: 625–31. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text
  3. Dacey ML, Kennedy MA, Polak R, Phillips EM. Physical activity counseling in medical school education: a systematic review. Med Educ Online 2014; 19: 24325, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/meo.v19.24325 Publisher Full Text
  4. Justine M, Azizan A, Hassan V, Salleh Z, Manaf H, et al. Barriers to participation in physical activity and exercise among middle-aged and elderly individuals. Singapore Med J 2013; 54: 581–6. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text
About The Authors

Shaan Rashid
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Omer A. Jamall
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Sheeraz Iqbal
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Abeer F. Rizvi
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Osman Nayeem
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

A.M. Hameed Khan
Imperial College London
United Kingdom

Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

Related Content