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Media Contact: Ron Sauder 03 February 2004
  rsauder@emory.edu    
  (404) 727-4499 ((40) 4) -727-4499   Print  | Email ]
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Healthy Students Make for Healthy Doctors -- and Patients, Emory Researcher Says
A series of studies have shown that doctors are, on the whole, healthier and longer-lived than the general population, even when matched to others of their same upper-tier economic and social status. Additional studies have shown that doctors who practice what they preach -- by watching their weight, not smoking, and fastening safety belts -- are also more likely to counsel their patients to follow such preventive measures.

Furthermore, the Women Physicians' Health Study found that doctors who took good care of themselves with respect to lowering their cholesterol, applying sunscreen, getting breast exams, taking flu vaccine and other similar preventive measures were most likely to urge their patients to follow the same healthy behaviors.

And now, there is reason to believe that the healthy doctors-healthy patients equation starts even earlier in the pipeline. Medical students who practice healthy habits will probably follow through in counseling their patients to do the same once they become doctors, according to an Emory University School of Medicine researcher.

Erica Frank, MD, MPH, associate professor of family and preventive medicine, reports in the February 4 Journal of the American Medical Association that first-year medical students who perform strenuous exercise are also likely to believe that counseling their patients to exercise will be "highly relevant" to their work as physicians. Dr. Frank's finding was based on a survey of 1,906 entering medical students, with an 87 percent response rate.

"Health promotion and disease prevention programs for medical students may not only affect their personal health behaviors but may also influence their patient counseling attitudes and practices," writes Dr. Frank. She adds, however, that this possible connection has not yet been studied and reported anywhere in the medical literature, suggesting obvious avenues for her future research.

Dr. Frank is currently heading a study of medical students at 17 participating medical schools called "Healthy Doc - Healthy Patient." The study has been backed by funding from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Merck Labs, and Glaxo-Wellcome. Future publications will report on the dietary, exercise, and personal health habits of U.S. medical students and the effect that medical school has on them. The study will also examine whether medical schools can promote healthy behaviors on the part of medical students and consequently, on the counseling practices they follow in treating patients.

"As a group, physicians are healthy and have healthy lifestyles," Dr. Frank concludes. "Furthermore, physicians' health behaviors appear to affect patients' attitudes and motivation to make lifestyle changes. Building on this relationship between personal and clinical practices could encourage physicians to include preventive counseling more often in their practices and to do it more effectively."

Media Contact: Ron Sauder 03 February 2004
  ron.sauder@emory.edu    
  (404) 727-4499   Print  | Email ]
Share:

del.icio.us

Healthy Students Make for Healthy Doctors -- and Patients, Emory Researcher Says
A series of studies have shown that doctors are, on the whole, healthier and longer-lived than the general population, even when matched to others of their same upper-tier economic and social status. Additional studies have shown that doctors who practice what they preach -- by watching their weight, not smoking, and fastening safety belts -- are also more likely to counsel their patients to follow such preventive measures.

Furthermore, the Women Physicians' Health Study found that doctors who took good care of themselves with respect to lowering their cholesterol, applying sunscreen, getting breast exams, taking flu vaccine and other similar preventive measures were most likely to urge their patients to follow the same healthy behaviors.

And now, there is reason to believe that the healthy doctors-healthy patients equation starts even earlier in the pipeline. Medical students who practice healthy habits will probably follow through in counseling their patients to do the same once they become doctors, according to an Emory University School of Medicine researcher.

Erica Frank, MD, MPH, associate professor of family and preventive medicine, reports in the February 4 Journal of the American Medical Association that first-year medical students who perform strenuous exercise are also likely to believe that counseling their patients to exercise will be "highly relevant" to their work as physicians. Dr. Frank's finding was based on a survey of 1,906 entering medical students, with an 87 percent response rate.

"Health promotion and disease prevention programs for medical students may not only affect their personal health behaviors but may also influence their patient counseling attitudes and practices," writes Dr. Frank. She adds, however, that this possible connection has not yet been studied and reported anywhere in the medical literature, suggesting obvious avenues for her future research.

Dr. Frank is currently heading a study of medical students at 17 participating medical schools called "Healthy Doc - Healthy Patient." The study has been backed by funding from the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Merck Labs, and Glaxo-Wellcome. Future publications will report on the dietary, exercise, and personal health habits of U.S. medical students and the effect that medical school has on them. The study will also examine whether medical schools can promote healthy behaviors on the part of medical students and consequently, on the counseling practices they follow in treating patients.

"As a group, physicians are healthy and have healthy lifestyles," Dr. Frank concludes. "Furthermore, physicians' health behaviors appear to affect patients' attitudes and motivation to make lifestyle changes. Building on this relationship between personal and clinical practices could encourage physicians to include preventive counseling more often in their practices and to do it more effectively."



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