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R I Med J (2013). 2013 May 1;96(5):43-7.

Resident physician preventive health behaviors and perspectives on primary care.

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Graduate of the general internal medicine residency program, Alpert Medical School at Brown University and works in the Division of Hospital Medicine, Rhode Island Hospital.


Little is known about lifestyle choices and preventive healthcare seeking behaviors among resident physicians. Residents function under unusual working conditions requiring extensive duty hours. This may significantly affect attentiveness to personal health and wellness. In this study, we surveyed residents across multiple training programs to compare lifestyle choices and access to preventive healthcare.


Resident physicians affiliated with Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, were surveyed between February and April 2009 regarding lifestyle habits and experiences with primary care. We evaluated the relationships between training program and established primary care on health behaviors.


Residents were in one of 5 programs: internal medicine, medicine/pediatrics, emergency medicine, surgery or pediatrics. Respondents slept an average of 6.7 hours per day and worked an average of 70 hours per week, with surgical residents sleeping the shortest and working the longest hours (p<0.001 for both). An average of 58.8% of residents indicated having a primary care physician. This rate was lowest among surgery residents at 37% (p=0.081). Rates of screening with regards to blood pressure, cholesterol and cervical cancer were significantly higher among residents maintaining primary care (p<0.001). A lack of time was the most common barrier to obtaining primary care.


Surgical residents may have unique barriers to healthcare seeking behaviors, such as longer work hours. Residents with established primary care had significantly higher rates of adherence to preventive screening. Residency programs should address barriers to accessing healthcare for trainees, particularly among surgical programs.


health behaviors; resident health; resident wellness

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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