Background: Determinants of physicians' prevention-related counseling and screening practices are not well understood. Such determinants are worth knowing because we can then intervene on malleable variables and produce physicians with stronger prevention-related skills. Of the few such variables that have been examined, they have typically only been studied in univariate analyses or in small or otherwise limited populations and have been especially sparsely studied in women physicians.
Objective: To explore the effect of potential counseling- and screening-related variables in 4501 respondents to the Women Physicians' Health Study, a questionnaire-based study of a representative sample of US women MDs.
Results: Being a primary care practitioner and practicing a related health habit oneself were significantly correlated with reporting counseling and screening for all prevention-related variables examined. Current attempts to improve a related habit oneself, ethnicity, region, practice site, and amount of continuing medical education were sometimes significantly correlated with counseling and screening; most other variables studied (i.e., personal health status, a personal or family history of disease, control of work environment, and career satisfaction) were rarely significantly correlated.
Conclusions: Being a primary care practitioner and having related healthy habits oneself were the most significant correlates of US women physicians' self-reported prevention-related counseling and screening practices. These findings suggest potential new directions for physician training.