Physicians Lack Confidence to Counsel Patients on Lifestyle

Joe Cantlupe, September 30, 2010

The poor diet and exercise habits of Americans are well chronicled, and will likely continue despite the growing clamor for wellness programs as bloated healthcare costs teeter on the budgetary scale of the country.

A study, "Do Providers' Own Lifestyle Habits Matter?" from the University of Michigan Health System's Department of Internal Medicine and published in Preventive Cardiology, only  adds to the discussion, looking at physicians themselves not only in terms of their own wellness, but how they convey information about exercise and eating to their patients.

The conclusions could give a person indigestion. Young physicians, possibly overwhelmed by their workloads, seem to opt more for fries than veggies on their dinner plates, and are less likely to exercise than older physicians. In addition, many physicians lack confidence in their ability to counsel patients regarding lifestyle concerning exercise and diet.

So while we are spending millions of dollars on wellness programs, doctors lack the confidence to influence their patients about weight or exercise habits.

With an estimated two-thirds of Americans overweight or obese, the "ability of healthcare providers to counsel patients regarding lifestyle factors such as obesity is imperative," the study states.  Key word there: Imperative.

Joe Cantlupe Joe Cantlupe is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media Online.Twitter

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