If Exercise is Medicine, Where is Exercise in Medicine? Review of U.S. Medical Education Curricula for Physical Activity-Related Content

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

This study provides an update on the amount and type of physical activity education occurring in medical education in the United States in 2013. It is the first study to do so since 2002.

Methods:

Applying content analysis methodology, we reviewed all accessible accredited doctor of medicine and doctor of osteopathic medicine institutions’ websites for physical activity education related coursework (N = 118 fully accessible; 69.41%).

Results:

The majority of institutions did not offer any physical activity education–related courses. When offered, they were rarely required. Courses addressing sports medicine and exercise physiology were offered more than courses in other content domains. Most courses were taught using a clinical approach. No differences were observed between MD and DO institutions, or between private and public institutions.

Conclusions:

More than one-half of the physicians trained in the United States in 2013 received no formal education in physical activity and may, therefore, be ill-prepared to assist their patients in a manner consistent with Healthy People 2020, the National Physical Activity Plan, or the Exercise is Medicine initiative. The Bipartisan Policy Center, American College of Sports Medicine, and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation called for a reversal of this situation on June 23, 2014.

BJ Cardinal (Brad.Cardinal@oregonstate.edu), Park, and Kim are with the School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR. MK Cardinal is with the Division of Health and Exercise Science, Western Oregon University, Monmouth, OR.

Journal of Physical Activity and Health