Physician disclosure of healthy personal behaviors improves credibility and ability to motivate

Arch Fam Med. 2000 Mar;9(3):287-90. doi: 10.1001/archfami.9.3.287.


Context: While some studies have shown that physicians with healthy personal habits are especially likely to discuss prevention with their patients, to our knowledge no one has published information testing whether physician credibility and patient motivation to adopt healthier habits are enhanced by physician's disclosures of their own healthy behaviors.

Design: Two brief health education videos about improving diet and exercise were produced and shown to subjects (n1 = 66, n2 = 65) in an Emory University general medical clinic waiting room in Atlanta, Ga. In one video, the physician revealed an additional half minute of information about her personal healthy dietary and exercise practices and had a bike helmet and an apple visible on her desk (physician-disclosure video). In the other video, discussion of personal practices and the apple and bike helmet were not included (control video).

Results: Viewers of the physician-disclosure video considered the physician to be generally healthier, some-what more believable, and more motivating than did viewers of the control video. They also rated this physician to be specifically more believable and motivating regarding exercise and diet (P < or = .001).

Conclusion: Physicians' abilities to motivate patients to adopt healthy habits can be enhanced by conveying their own healthy habits. Educational institutions should consider encouraging health professionals-in-training to practice and demonstrate healthy personal lifestyles.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Physicians*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Videotape Recording