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Practicing What We Preach?

Practicing What We Preach?

It has been largely assumed that healthcare workers (HCWs) take better care of themselves than the patients they treat because they have greater knowledge of appropriate healthcare choices than the general public and because of their position as role models for patients. “HCWs represent an important group in which to study individual health behaviors,” explains Kenneth J. Mukamal, MD, MPH. “Empiric evidence suggests that HCWs who appear to adhere to the advice they give to their patients may have their advice taken more seriously than from HCWs who are less healthy. Unfortunately, little data exist from long-term studies to confirm this association.” In many respects, HCWs represent a best-case scenario for public health research, according to Dr. Mukamal, because of their access to the best health knowledge available. He adds that when physicians are successful in achieving certain health-related goals, it may indicate what accomplishments can be expected in the general public if efforts are made for greater education on that topic. However, he says the pendulum swings both ways, warning that if HCWs are not meeting a certain goal, it suggests that societal pressures may be difficult to overcome. A Deeper Look into Healthcare Worker Lifestyle Dr. Mukamal and Benjamin K. I. Helfand, MSc, had a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine that further investigated the healthcare and lifestyle practices of HCWs. The study team used the CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an annual telephone survey of adults in the United States. HCWs were identified as respondents who replied “yes” when questioned if they provided direct patient care as part of their routine work. The authors...
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