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Prev Cardiol. 2010 Fall;13(4):180-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-7141.2010.00079.x. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

Patient-related diet and exercise counseling: do providers' own lifestyle habits matter?

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.


The goal of this research was to evaluate the personal health behaviors of physicians in training and attending physicians in association with patient-related lifestyle counseling. Physicians at a major teaching hospital were surveyed regarding their personal lifestyle behavior, perceived confidence, and frequency of counseling patients regarding lifestyle behaviors. One hundred eighty-three total responses were received. Trainees were more likely to consume fast food and less likely to consume fruits and vegetables than attendings. 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%, P<.0001) and regular exercise (69.1% vs 38.2%, P<.0001) compared with trainees. Few trainees or attendings were confident in their ability to change patients' behaviors. Predictors of confidence in counseling for exercise included the provider's own exercise time of > 150 minutes per week, being overweight, and reported adequate training in counseling. Only adequate training in counseling was a predictor of strong self-efficacy for counseling in diet. Many physicians lack confidence in their ability to counsel patients regarding lifestyle. Personal behaviors including regular exercise and better training in counseling techniques may improve patient counseling.

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