Doctors' habits affect patient counseling

Sept. 23, 2010 at 1:59 AM

ANN ARBOR, Mich., Sept. 23 (UPI) -- A doctor who eats fast-food and hardly ever exercises is less apt to counsel patients to eat healthy and exercise, U.S. researchers found.

However, when comparing whether attending physicians who had completed their physician training to doctors still in training, both types of doctors reported low levels of confidence in their ability to counsel patients regarding healthy habits.

Lead author Dr. Michael Howe, chief medical resident at University of Michigan Health System, says a majority of attending physicians talked to patients about a healthy diet, compared to 36 percent of doctors still in internship or residency programs.

The study, scheduled to be published in the Oct. 1 issue of Preventive Cardiology, found for doctors who completed training, factors that increased their confidence in counseling depended on the doctors' own exercise time, being overweight and whether the doctors had adequate training in counseling patients.

Attending physicians reported eating better and exercising more than doctor trainees, whose diets were heavier in fast-food, the study says.

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