April 26, 2022

Behind the Poster: An Interview with Jessica Koran-Scholl, PhD

Two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or have obesity (classified as having a Body Mass Index of 25 or higher). But despite this commonality, there is a pervasive bias against people who are overweight or have obesity, even—or perhaps especially—in the medical community. This may stem from a lack of awareness or education about weight/obesity bias during a learner’s educational program. Jessica Koran-Scholl, PhD and colleagues reviewed the impact an obesity bias awareness workshop has on how physicians understand this phenomenon. They presented their work in the Poster Hall at the 2022 ACGME Annual Educational Conference, which was held virtually March 30-April 1, 2022.

Poster: Results of an Obesity Bias E-Learning Module in Family Medicine Clerkship Students
Primary Author: Jessica Koran-Scholl, PhD
Co-Authors: Birgit Khandalavala, MD; Jenenne Geske, PhD


ACGME: Tell us about your academic and professional role.

Dr. Koran-Scholl: I am an associate professor and the director of behavioral health for the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s department of family medicine. I oversee behavioral health education for the family medicine residents. I also teach medical and other health professions students, see patients in the clinical setting, and have scholarly interests in wellness/resiliency and obesity/obesity bias.

ACGME: Can you briefly describe your project for us?

Koran-Scholl: Third-year medical students completing their rural family medicine clerkships completed a two-hour workshop (via Zoom) on obesity and obesity bias. We incorporated an e-learning module developed by the presenting faculty members into this interactive workshop. The e-learning module explored five short video vignettes in which obesity bias could occur during a primary care PCMH visit. Learner comfort and understanding of their own biases was assessed before and after the workshop.

ACGME: What inspired you to do this project?

Koran-Scholl: Obesity rates in the US are on the rise and medical students and residents get little if any formal education on obesity bias and/or working with patients with obesity. This project was inspired by the void in education of this important social determinant of health and the desire to help learners feel more comfortable addressing weight and health behaviors with patients.

ACGME: What did you discover?

Koran-Scholl: It is possible to create an interactive, reflective, and educational Zoom session with students located across the state in rural locations. Students were engaged in the session and felt comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences.

ACGME: What was the main takeaway?

Koran-Scholl: Students enjoyed our e-learning module which consisted of five short video vignettes depicting a PCMH clinical visit. They especially enjoyed learning about mitigation strategies to combat obesity bias. They reported increased understanding of their own biases and feeling more comfortable addressing obesity bias after the workshop. 

ACGME: Who could benefit from this?

Koran-Scholl: All health professions learners could benefit from this workshop. We are excited to continue sharing our expertise with others in the future. Please contact us (Jessica.koran@unmc.edu, Birgit.khandalavala@unmc.edu) if you would like to schedule a Zoom workshop with your learners.

ACGME: Any additional follow-up plans?

Koran-Scholl: We plan to continue offering this workshop to medical students and other health professions students during the 2022-2023 academic year.