University of British Columbia / (CANADA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2019 Proceedings
Publication year: 2019
Page: 11697
ISBN: 978-84-09-14755-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2019.2940
Conference name: 12th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 11-13 November, 2019
Location: Seville, Spain
North American (and other countries’) physicians and medical students tend to report significantly better health habits when compared with same-age peers. Physicians’ healthy habits should be encouraged because these correlate with positive mental and physical health outcomes not only for doctors, but also for patients.

This talk reviews the relevant literature, discussing the likelihood of habitually healthy physicians to promote these same habits to their patients; this “Healthy Doctor = Healthy Patient” relationship (the term first consistently used in Frank, Smith, and Fitzmaurice 2005) is true for many health behaviors.

- A majority of people cite their physician as the primary source of information regarding healthy lifestyle decisions; these patients are more likely to adopt a healthy lifestyle when their physician recommends it.
- Physicians and medical students with healthy personal habits more consistently report counseling their patients about these habits, and physicians who personally adopt recommended preventive screenings and interventions have more adherent patients.
- It is increasingly important for medical schools to proactively produce healthy doctors.
- The “Healthy Doctor = Healthy Patient” relationship encourages prevention-oriented healthcare systems to evaluate and support the many positive effects of physician health on the health of their patients.

These findings also highlight the importance of medical school and physician interventions to increase the numbers of physicians in training and practice adopting and maintaining regular healthy habits, in order to increase the rates of physician-delivered, health-promoting prescriptions in the future.

Many studies have found that physicians and medical students who testify to healthy personal habits more consistently report counseling their own patients about related habits (notably, Duperly et al. 2008a; Frank, Carrera, Elon, and Hertzberg 2007; Frank, Rothenberg, Lewis, and Belodoff 2000; Frank, Segura, Shen, and Oberg 2010; Oberg and Frank 2009). Most recently, however—instead of relying solely on physicians’ self-reported counseling and preventive practices—the relationship between healthy doctor and healthy patient has been assessed through objectively measured clinical experiences (Frank, Dresner, Shani, and Vinker 2013). In so doing, researchers have further documented consistent, positive relationships between physicians’ and patients’ preventive health practices.

This talk also emphasizes the importance of cultivating proactive medical doctors in the good soil of responsive medical schools and universities—although, to date, it appears that only one large-scale study (Frank, Elon, and Hertzberg 2007; Frank, Smith, and Fitzmaurice 2005) has documented this type of intervention.

The establishment of the Healthy Doctor = Healthy Patient relationship should, in and of itself, encourage prevention-oriented healthcare systems in order to better support and evaluate these positive effects on patients.
Health, patience.