Integrating Exercise Counselling into the Medical School Curriculum: A Workshop-Based Approach Using Behaviour Change Techniques

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Brennan, Andrea
D'Urzo, Katrina
Fenuta, Alyssa
Houlden, Robin
Tomasone, Jennifer
Medical education , Physical activity prescription , Curriculum , Theory of planned behavior
Objective: Physician physical activity (PA) counselling remains low due partly to lack of knowledge, emphasizing the importance of providing learning opportunities to develop competency, given the strong associations between PA and health. This study aimed to describe the behaviour change techniques (BCTs) used in an “Exercise Expo” workshop and examine the workshop’s effectiveness for improving social cognitions to discuss exercise with patients. Methods: Second year medical students (N=54; Mage±SD=25.4±2.95 years) completed questionnaires assessing attitudes, perceived behaviour control (PBC), subjective norms, and intentions to provide PA counselling pre and post-workshop. Repeated-measures ANOVAs evaluated changes in these Theory of Planned Behaviour constructs. Results: The most utilized BCTs included presenting information from credible sources, with opportunities for practicing the behaviour and receiving feedback. Significant increases in attitudes, PBC and intentions to discuss PA were observed from pre-post Exercise Expo (p≤0.01). No statistically significant differences in subjective norms were observed (p=0.06). Conclusions: The Exercise Expo significantly improved social cognitions for PA counselling among medical students. Future interventions should target improvements in subjective norms to increase the likelihood the workshop improves PA counselling behaviour. The evidence supports the usefulness of a workshop-based educational strategy to enhance medical students’ social cognitions for PA counselling.