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Doctors' Health, Well-Being Affect Patient Counseling
Date:10/2/2010

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Doctors who take care of themselves may be more likely to recommend healthy lifestyle habits to their patients than doctors who gobble down fast food a couple of times a week and rarely hit the gym, according to new research.

Additionally, the study found that more experienced doctors and those who felt they'd been well-trained to counsel their patients on lifestyle changes felt more comfortable doing so.

"Physicians who exercised more were more likely to counsel their patients on the importance of exercise," said the study's senior author, Dr. Elizabeth Jackson, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.

Ironically, the researchers also found that physicians who were overweight were more likely to counsel their patients on the importance of lifestyle changes, probably because they were working on making such changes themselves, the authors theorized.

Results of the study were published online Oct. 1 in the journal Preventive Cardiology.

The study included survey responses from 183 doctors; 102 of the doctors were trainees (residents and fellows) and 81 were attending physicians, meaning they had completed their medical training.

About 21 percent of the trainees were overweight and nearly 6 percent were obese, while 27 percent of the attendings were overweight and over 8 percent were obese. Most of the physicians -- both trainees and attending -- reported having had their blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked during the past year.

Both groups of doctors reported low intake of fruits and vegetables, fast food consumption at least once a week and not getting enough exercise. Attending physicians were far more likely to report exercising four or more days a week.

Seventy percent of attending physicians reported counseling their patients on healthy lif
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