Counseling education does not significantly boost residents' dietary counseling of patients with diabetes

Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356

Lifestyle modifications, including dietary changes, can alter the course of diabetes. Unfortunately, physicians infrequently provide diabetic dietary counseling to their patients. Internal medicine (IM) residents reported low levels of comfort with and frequency of diabetic dietary counseling in a study led by Joyce M. Tang, M.D., of Northwestern University. Those IM residents with prior education in chronic disease counseling (31 percent) expressed three times greater comfort with dietary counseling and reported more frequent counseling, but not significantly so.

The researchers suggest several explanations for this, including lack of time, lack of appropriate resources, and the low perceived effectiveness of dietary counseling. Only 12 percent of residents with or without chronic disease counseling education perceived dietary counseling to be effective.

The low levels of comfort with and frequency of diabetic dietary counseling reported by IM residents are consistent with the rates of general dietary counseling observed in other studies of physicians and residents. The researchers speculate that educational efforts have not addressed physicians' perception that dietary counseling is not effective in prompting patients to improve their diet. Their study surveyed 111 IM residents at a single academic institution. It was supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (T32 HS00078).

See "Internal medicine residents' comfort with and frequency of providing dietary counseling to diabetic patients," by Dr. Tang, Benjamin Freed, M.D., Timothy Baker, M.D., and others in the Journal of General Internal Medicine 24(10), pp. 1140-1143, 2009.

Current as of April 2010
Internet Citation: Counseling education does not significantly boost residents' dietary counseling of patients with diabetes: Research Activities, April 2010, No. 356. April 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/apr10/0410RA20.html