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Efficacy of a Physician Assistant Student-Developed Behavior Change Program at a Local Free Clinic

Cusumano, Judy PhD; Martin, Carla S. MNM; Butler, Brittany PA-C; Bixler, Brian PA-C; Shirk, Kelsey PA-C

The Journal of Physician Assistant Education: March 2017 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 41–44
doi: 10.1097/JPA.0000000000000106
Brief Report
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Purpose A quality assurance and quality improvement assessment was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of a behavior change program developed by physician assistant (PA) students at a local free clinic.

Methods Physician assistant students developed and implemented a program using motivational interviewing and healthy lifestyle behavioral counseling at a local free clinic. Twenty-eight patients participated in the program over 5 cohorts. A retrospective chart review was used to collect data.

Results Weight and body mass index (BMI) data were gathered retrospectively from patients' charts corresponding to the 6 months before the program, at the start of the program, at the end of the 12-week program, and at 3 and 6 months after the program. Significant differences were found between the start and end of the program for weight (P < .001) and BMI scores (P < .001). The mean weight decreased from 111.98 (standard deviation [SD] = 33.47) to 109.00 kg (SD = 33.93). The weight loss ranged from 0.45 to 9.53 kg, and 75% of participants lost weight. The mean BMI decreased from 41.21 (SD = 10.64) to 40.13 (SD = 10.98). Differences were maintained at 3- and 6-month follow-ups. However, only half the sample's data were available at follow-ups because some patients did not return to the free clinic during that time period.

Conclusions A program facilitated by PA students and designed to help patients make healthy diet and exercise changes can be a valuable resource for free clinics and patients and an excellent clinical opportunity for PA students. To strengthen the program's commitment to maintenance of weight loss, program components of continued follow-up and engagement of patients should be explored and developed.

Judy Cusumano, PhD, is an associate professor at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program, Roanoke, Virginia.

Carla S. Martin, MNM, is chief operating officer at the Bradley Free Clinic, Roanoke, Virginia.

Brittany Butler, PA-C, is a former PA student at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke, Virginia.

Brian Bixler, PA-C, is a former PA student at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke, Virginia.

Kelsey Shirk, PA-C, is a former PA student at the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, Roanoke, Virginia.

Correspondence should be addressed to: Judy Cusumano, PhD, Jefferson College of Health Sciences Physician Assistant Program, 101 Elm Avenue SE, Roanoke, VA 24013. Telephone (540) 224-4642; Email: jacusumano@jchs.edu

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2017 Physician Assistant Education Association
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