Lifestyle Medicine Competencies

The following set of competencies were identified by a national consensus panel and published in JAMA. ACPM endorses the competencies, has incorporated them into the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program, and encourages their adoption into practice and medical education.


  • Promote healthy behaviors as foundational to medical care, disease prevention, and health promotion.
  • Seek to practice healthy behaviors and create school, work, and home environments that support healthy behaviors.


  • Demonstrate knowledge of the evidence that specific lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on patients’ health outcomes.
  • Describe ways that physician engagement with patients and families can have a positive effect on patients’ health behaviors.

Assessment Skills

  • Assess the social, psychological, and biological predispositions of patients’ behaviors and the resulting health outcomes.
  • Assess patient and family readiness, willingness, and ability to make health behavior changes.
  • Perform a history and physical examination specific to lifestyle-related health status, including lifestyle "vital signs" such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity, body mass index, stress level, sleep, and emotional well-being. Based on this assessment, obtain and interpret appropriate tests to screen, diagnose, and monitor lifestyle-related diseases.

Management Skills

  • Use nationally recognized practice guidelines (such as those for hypertension and smoking cessation) to assist patients in self-managing their health behaviors and lifestyles.
  • Establish effective relationships with patients and their families to effect and sustain behavioral change using evidence-based counseling methods and tools and follow-up.
  • Collaborate with patients and their families to develop evidence-based, achievable, specific, written action plans such as lifestyle prescriptions.
  • Help patients manage and sustain healthy lifestyle practices, and refer patients to other health care professionals as needed for lifestyle-related conditions.

Use of Office and Community Support

  • Have the ability to practice as an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals and support a team approach.
  • Develop and apply office systems and practices to support lifestyle medical care including decision support technology.
  • Measure processes and outcomes to improve quality of lifestyle interventions in individuals and groups of patients.
  • Use appropriate community referral resources that support the implementation of healthy lifestyles.
lifestyle medicine news issue
Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program This accredited, fully-updated 2nd edition program provides a comprehensive foundation on the basic principles of lifestyle medicine. Learn More

Establishing the Competencies

The core competencies of lifestyle medicine were identified by a national consensus panel of eight medical specialty societies and published in the JAMA article “Physician Competencies for Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine,” (Lianov L, Johnson M. JAMA. 2010;304(2):202–203). The panel was jointly led by the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) and American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) with representatives from the:

  • American College of Physicians
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Osteopathic Association
  • American College of Sports Medicine
  • American Medical Association

The authors recommended that physician educators consider incorporating the core competencies into education and training programs, and encouraged medical specialty organizations to adopt and adapt them as appropriate. ACPM and ACLM endorse these competencies and have incorporated them into the Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program.

Adopting the Competencies

To follow up the work of the panel, ACPM convened a working group to identify strategies for furthering the adoption of lifestyle medicine competencies into practice. The working group recommended pursuing efforts which:

  • Incorporate lifestyle medicine competencies into clinical practice
  • Educate customers about lifestyle medicine solutions to drive demand
  • Secure the support of public and private payers for reimbursement of lifestyle medicine services
  • Secure the support of employers for lifestyle medicine interventions in benefit design and incentives

To promote these initiatives, the working group also identified three areas of focus: physician training and resources; physician certification and recognition; and influencing adoption and demand.

455 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Suite 200
Washington, DC 20001

(202) 466-2044