An Evaluation of a Body Image Training Course for Health Professionals


Health professionals (HP), including fitness trainers, are individuals who support and care for clients/patients. Despite body image being a crucial aspect of their practice, many HPs indicate insufficient preparedness to tackle body image concerns. Following a mixed-methods design, this study evaluated changes in HPs’ knowledge, skills, practical application, and their own body image and related attitudes following an 8-module body image training course. The analytic sample consisted of 47 HPs, the majority of whom identified as registered dietitians (25.0%), health coaches (19.2%), fitness trainers (21.2%), and nutritionists (13.5%). Participants completed 72.1% (SD = 33.1) of the modules and reported high satisfaction, usefulness, and understandability ratings (i.e., >92/100 %). There were statistically significant (p < .05) reductions in HPs’ self-oriented perfectionism (t(49) = 2.94, d = .42) and idealization of thin (t(49) = 4.68, d = 0.66) and athletic (t(49) = 5.13, d = .73) body ideals. HPs also exhibited increased body appreciation (t(49) = -2.98, d = -.42) and higher scores on a researcher-devised body image knowledge quiz (t(44) = -5.89, d = -.88). Thematic analyses were conducted on open-ended responses regarding implementation of course content, acquired skills, and feedback for improvement. HPs noted a shift towards individualized, compassionate practices and an increased readiness to address body image. The course's impact on their own body image and its potential as an ongoing educational resource was also highlighted. These findings underscore the feasibility and transformative potential of a comprehensive body image training course for HPs.