Doctors' Exercise Linked to Confidence Counseling Patients

Few attendings, trainees feel confident about being able to change patients' diet, exercise behaviors
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Physicians' exercise habits and weight are associated with their confidence in their abilities to counsel patients on exercise and diet, as is the level of training they have received in counseling techniques, according to research published in the fall issue of Preventive Cardiology.

Michael Howe, M.D., of the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed data from 102 residents and fellows and 81 attending physicians, including internists, family practitioners, endocrinologists, and cardiologists.

The researchers found that attending physicians were more likely to exercise at least four days/week and more than 150 minutes/week. They were also more likely than trainees to counsel patients on having a healthy diet (70.7 versus 36.3 percent) and exercising regularly (69.1 versus 38.2 percent). Trainees were less likely to consume vegetables and fruits and more likely to eat fast food. Few respondents felt confident in their ability to change their patients' behaviors. Factors predicting level of confidence in counseling about exercise included getting more than 150 minutes of weekly exercise, reporting adequate training in counseling, and being overweight.

"Our data confirm that residents and fellows, in general, lead a less healthy lifestyle than attending physicians. This may lead to decreased awareness of available local resources and healthy lifestyle options, which may contribute to less frequent and less enthusiastic lifestyle counseling by resident physicians. A focus on creating a healthier personal lifestyle for resident physicians through increased exercise facilities and opportunities and wider in-hospital dietary options may contribute to increased awareness and thus more effective counseling," the authors write.

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