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Be A Better Doctor by Practicing What You Preach

Erica Oberg, ND, MPH

Physicians who practice healthy habits are in a position to play a key role in curbing the health care crisis by helping their patients adopt healthy lifestyles for the primary prevention of chronic diseases. The health of clinicians is especially important because they serve as health role models and because they are more likely to counsel their patients about health behavior changes if they practice healthy habits themselves. As well, many physicians report difficulty counseling patients about behaviors they themselves don’t practice. Here I review the link between personal health practices and health care delivery and quantify the population risk reduction that could be expected if health care providers practiced and then counseled their patients about healthy behaviors. I also review the barriers to and strategies for incorporating healthful behaviors into health care providers’ personal practice.

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