Doctors Not Providing Information About Good Health Habits

ATLANTA, GA-It is now well established that there are a host of medical conditions that can be prevented if issues are addressed. For example, proper diet, blood pressure, blood sugar and weight control, quitting smoking, exercise, pregnancy health, and many others. Most of these issues can be initially introduced under the guidance of a doctor who is acquainted with the medical conditions and consequences of preventative measures.

In 1995, U.S. government health researchers surveyed doctors by evaluating 29,272 office visits. The study was just published in the journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (1998;47:91-94). The journal is the flagship publication of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the study just released by the CDC, only 19% of doctors talked with patients about exercise, 23% discussed diet and a paltry 10% counseled their patients on losing weight.

Remarkably, quitting smoking was discussed with only 41% of smokers during office visits! Putting it the other way around, doctors did NOT discuss smoking with 59% of their smoking patients!

The study found that men were more likely to be counseled against smoking than women. And older patients were more likely to be counseled than younger patients. As to geography, U.S. Midwesterners were most likely to get advice and Southerners the least likely, according to the CDC study referred to as the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.

A Reuter's news release quotes Dr. Philip Greenland, the chairman of preventive medicine at the Northwestern School of Medicine in Chicago, Illinois, "Many studies have shown that physician advice is a powerful motivational tool to help patients be more compliant with new behaviors that can help reduce their risk of disease." He adds, "What this study shows us is that we have along way to go before we have achieved our goal of effective patient counseling. As healthcare providers, we must accept some of the blame for patient noncompliance."

We echo the belief that attentive counseling will enhance the overall health of patients. Further, it is our belief at MedicineNet that physicians can provide far more effective healthcare by supplementing their interactions with patients with reliable medical information.

To quote a past MedicineNet Editorial (see NEWS ARCHIVES; News from MedicineNet...August 9, 1996 Lasers in The Jungle! editorial): "We at MedicineNet believe strongly that there is a certain need for improved patient satisfaction in the current medical climate. We also believe that a first step toward improvement in this area is to provide understandable information for patients. In that regard, we have assembled a team of specialist physicians who have as their challenge addressing the medical issues of our time while explaining conditions and treatment options in a manner capable of being received by the general public.

We at MedicineNet will continue to provide a channel for the flow of information regarding diseases, treatments, medications, medical technology, and new concepts in medicine for Internet viewers, their friends, and families. We are orchestrated by viewer questions and suggestions and are propelled by viewer satisfaction."

Last Editorial Review: 2/23/1998