Background: This study aimed to chart the health, perceived health, medical career, life style, and sociological factors of Hungarian physicians who graduated in 1979. The results were analyzed for differences between genders and professional specialty groups (primary, surgical, non-surgical, diagnostic).
Material/methods: Of 228 questionnaire completed by doctors 25 years after graduation from Semmelweis Medical University, Budapest, Hungary, 186 were analyzable.
Results: More men were in surgical professions; a larger proportion of women became primary specialists. Women had to modify their specialty or place of work more often. The average number of children was 2.26 for men and 1.87 for women. Primary specialist men and non-surgical women showed the highest increases in body weight. Hypertension and failure to attend regular screenings were more common in males and they were more often dissatisfied with received treatment. Physical exercise, typically sports, were reduced after graduation and the preferred types of activity also changed. Female physicians considered regular exercise more important. Smokers were mainly male surgeons and women in primary care. Surgeons and women in non-surgical specialties consumed more alcohol. As patients, male physicians followed medical advice more faithfully. Doctors judged their own health status as better than their patients'. Knowledge of foreign languages was higher in the men. Ten percent of the physicians had postgraduate degrees in research.
Conclusions: Physicians give advice and provide care, but they do not always follow such advice themselves. Their social circumstances and scientific careers depend mostly on the social and health system in which they work.