Leading Healthy Lives: Lifestyle Medicine for Medical Students

Lilach Malatskey, Jumanah Essa-Hadad, Thomas A. Willis, Mary C.J. Rudolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Background. Doctors have a special role in helping patients make lifestyle changes, and they are more credible and effective if they are role models. Yet few medical schools have incorporated lifestyle medicine into their curricula. We ascertained the influence of a lifestyle medicine curriculum during the first year of medical school. Methods. The curriculum, involving 140 students, consisted of one intensive day at medical school entry and 16 hours of teaching 8 months later. It addressed students’ own lifestyle choices and topics related to lifestyle medicine. A survey was delivered at the beginning and end of the academic year. Results. A total of 114 students completed the first survey and 64 the second. They rated the course highly for personal and professional value. At baseline, students exhibited lifestyle behaviors typical for young adults and showed an appreciation of the physician’s role in lifestyle change. However, over time they showed a significant reduction in quality of lifestyle, with increased stress, weight gain, and fast food consumption and less exercise. Conclusions. Although lifestyle medicine knowledge is valued by medical students, a 24-hour intensive lifestyle medicine curriculum delivered over 3 days appears to be ineffective in preventing worsening lifestyle behaviors over the course of the year. This is especially concerning as physicians are unlikely to provide effective guidance if they cannot sustain healthy behaviors themselves.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-219
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Lifestyle Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Author(s).


  • health behaviors of medical students
  • lifestyle curriculum
  • lifestyle medicine
  • lifestyle medicine teaching


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