Key Predictors of Primary Care Providers’ Self-Efficacy in Caring for Children with Overweight or Obesity

Published:March 02, 2022DOI:



      Self-efficacy is a crucial factor in enabling pediatric primary care providers (PCPs) to deliver recommended care to children with overweight and obesity. This study, conducted with a large, national sample of PCPs, aimed to identify key factors, which may contribute to PCP self-efficacy for obesity-related care, from a list of previously reported barriers and facilitators.


      A national random sample of American Academy of Pediatrics members was surveyed in 2017 (analytic n = 704). Factor analysis was used to identify self-efficacy variables from relevant indicators and assess fit. Multivariable linear regression analyses were conducted to identify key predictors of PCP self-efficacy from reported facilitators or barriers to care, including characteristics of the PCP, practice, community, and payment systems.


      Two PCP self-efficacy variables were identified: health risk assessment and patient-centered counseling. Both were positively predicted by relevant training, the belief that pediatricians play an important role in obesity, and awareness of barriers to payment for dietitians or weight management programs. Both were negatively predicted by a perceived lack of available PCP time for counseling and inadequacy of available referral resources to assist with treatment. Additional predictors of counseling self-efficacy included PCP beliefs that they are paid for treatment (+) and that patients/families lack time for healthy behaviors (-). Electronic health record clinical decision supports or registries and patient social disadvantage were not predictive.


      Results suggest multiple potential roles and strategies for local and national organizations seeking to facilitate improvements to PCP self-efficacy in caring for children with overweight and obesity.


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