Prevention and Management of Obesity: New “Provider Competencies” Aim to Prepare Future Health Professionals
Currently, in the United States, over one-third of adults and approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 have obesity. Obesity increases the risk of a variety of chronic health conditions, contributes to musculoskeletal injuries, movement impairments, and has been associated with a reduced quality of life. In 2013, The American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a disease. Though this designation was and remains controversial, it clearly demonstrates the AMA’s opinion that obesity is a complex issue with significant health repercussions.
Despite its widespread prevalence, many healthcare workers currently feel ill-prepared to optimally address the needs of their patients with obesity. Recognizing the necessity to better equip healthcare workers with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to address the complex issues related to the prevention and management of obesity, The Provider Training and Education Work Group of The Integrated Clinical and Social Systems for the Prevention and Management of Obesity (ICSSPMO) was assembled. The ICSSPMO, an Innovation Collaborative, is an ad-hoc convening activity associated with the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions within the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
The Work Group was composed of members representing a wide range of healthcare professions and professional organizations, including the American Council of Academic Physical Therapy (ACAPT). Over a two year period, beginning in March of 2015, The Provider Training and Education Work Group met a total of five times to discuss, develop, and reach a consensus on “common” obesity-specific competencies across a wide-range of healthcare curriculums. These competencies were officially unveiled on June 7th 2017 at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington DC. The competencies represent a consensus on suggested curricular content to be included in educational programs to better prepare healthcare workers to address the needs of their patients with obesity. The competencies are spread across three major areas:
· Competencies for Core Obesity Knowledge
· Competencies for Interprofessional Obesity Care
· Competencies for Patient Interactions Related to Obesity
The competencies are not meant to be prescriptive but rather represent a suggested framework appropriate across a wide range of entry-level healthcare curricula. It is expected that implementation of the competencies will not only better prepare healthcare workers to treat their patients with obesity, but also to work effectively with other healthcare providers as members of an interprofessional team whose common goal is to provide comprehensive evidence-based approaches for the prevention and management of obesity.
The Provider Competencies for the Prevention and Management of Obesity document is now available for download at https://cdn.bipartisanpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Provider-Competencies-for-the-Prevention-and-Management-of-Obesity.pdf
David O. Sword, PT, DPT, CCS, CEP, CSCS
College of Health Professions, Physical Therapy Division
Medical University of SC
151 Building B Rutledge Ave. Room 304
Charleston, SC 29525