American College of Lifestyle Medicine

Document Type






Current healthcare environments amplify the need for educational systems to forge healthy workforces to withstand stressors. Our study examines the effects of embedding a lifestyle medicine curriculum on student wellness in a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program, simultaneously preparing students to implement lifestyle medicine with future patients and communities.


In a DPT program, we implemented a lifestyle medicine curriculum grounded within the Social-Ecological Model. This framework emphasizes student success in the program’s pre-clinical phases, creates a purposeful “ripple effect” threading wellness strategies among peers, patients, and communities, and emphasizes wellness as a clinician over the 32-month curriculum. The Five Factor Wellness (FFW) Inventory and Psychological Capital (PC) Questionnaire measured student wellness at matriculation, mid-program, and graduation. We used Social Network Analysis (SNA) to examine the strength and types of peer connections.


The response rate for two cohorts across the four-year study for the FFW was 100% and 80% (n=100/125) for PC and SNA. Race composition was White (84.0%, n=105), Asian (9.6%, n=12), Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (2.4%, n=3), Hispanic or Latino (2.4%, n=3), other-not described (.8%, n=1), and preferred not to answer (.8%, n=1); and 61.6% (n=77) were female. SNA:The average number of close classmate connections increased from 4.7 (0-28) to 12.9 (0-39) at mid-program and to 19.7 (3-43) at graduation. A repeated-measures ANOVA (Bonferroni correction) revealed significant increases in scores: matriculation-mid-program - FFW-coping (1.6, .2-3.0, p=.024), FFW-leisure (3.2, .8-5.5, p=.004), FFW-self-care (2.3, .7-3.9, p=.002), PC-efficacy (2.1, 1.3-2.9, p


Implementing a lifestyle medicine curriculum contributed to DPT graduates developing close connections among peers for support and friendship, being empowered with coping strategies to regulate responses and manage negative effects of life events, taking responsibility for self-care measures, and improving psychological capital to persevere confidently toward goals.


Funding was provided by the College of Allied Health Professions Interprofessional Education Grant and the Physical Therapy Program of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.