Physicians Lack Confidence to Counsel Patients on Lifestyle

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , September 30, 2010

The study focused on physicians and physician trainees at the University of Michigan Health System regarding their personal lifestyle behaviors. As defined in the survey, physicians were categorized as internists, family practioners, endocrinologists, and cardiologists. Physician trainees included residents from internal medicine, family medicine, and preliminary year interns.

. Among the findings:

  • Trainees were more likely to consume fast food and less likely to consume fruits and vegetables than attending physicians.
  • Attending physicians were more likely to exercise 4 or more days per week and more than 150 minutes per week.
  • Attending physicians were more likely to counsel their patients regarding a healthy diet (70.7%, vs. 36.3%) and have regular exercise, (69.1% vs. 38.2%), compared to trainees.

Generally, however, "few physicians were confident the ability to change patient behaviors," the study states. Only 10.8% of trainees and 17.3% of attending physicians reported "high self efficacy" for changing patients' diet related behaviors, according to the study.

Both trainees and attending physicians reported low levels of fruit and vegetable consumption and relatively "low levels" of exercise. About 9.8% of trainees and 39.5% of attending physicians reported exercising 4 or more days per week

If physicians' exercised, however, they were more likely to be engaged in counseling patients. Their own dietary habits did not seem to play a role in how they counseled patients in what to eat.

And here's an interesting twist: While trainees or attending physicians were not confident in their ability to change patients' behaviors, the overweight physicians seemed to do better at it. According to the study, more than 20% of trainees and 27% of attending physicians were overweight.

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1 comments on "Physicians Lack Confidence to Counsel Patients on Lifestyle"

Laura Moss (10/13/2010 at 4:28 PM)
Can this article be reprinted in our newsletter. I know that I can share it and also link it via the links provided but wanted to make sure printing was ok, as well.




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