McNerney JP, Andes S, Blackwell DL. Self-Reported Health Behaviors of Osteopathic Physicians. J Am Osteopath Assoc 2007;107(12):537–546. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2007.107.12.537.
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The degree to which osteopathic physicians (DOs) take care of their own health is of interest not only to the osteopathic medical community, but also to physicians' patients. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) Committee on Physician Health asked attendees at the July 2001 AOA House of Delegates Annual Business Meeting in Chicago, Ill, to complete a one-page survey on their personal health practices. This survey comprised 22 questions on such items as vacation and personal time, exercise habits, weight control, tobacco and alcohol use, and regular physical examinations and medical screening. Two hundred ninety-nine attendees completed the survey during the 15 minutes immediately after the report of the Committee on Physician Health (response rate: ∼75%). The results indicate that DOs are similar to the proverbial patient in terms of personal health practices. Although DOs follow some physicians' orders, they do not follow others. Most DOs take regular vacations and daily personal time, and they get some of their recommended physical examinations and medical screenings. The authors suggest that DOs pay greater attention to their exercise habits, weight control, and signs of substance abuse.
We have learned that role modeling has a very powerful effect on others. We physicians can, and do, play a significant part in teaching our patients healthy lifestyle behaviors. A physically fit physician sets expectations for patients. Can we not expect, then, the role modeling effect to be positive?
[Osteopathic physicians] need to remember the osteopathic medical tenet that health requires wellness of the body, the mind and the spirit. And DOs need to remind themselves that osteopathic principles apply to them as well as their patients.
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