Preventive, lifestyle, and personal health behaviors among physicians

Acad Psychiatry. Jul-Aug 2009;33(4):289-95. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.33.4.289.


Objective: This study examines personal health behaviors and wellness, health-related lifestyles, and prevention screening practices among licensed physicians.

Methods: An anonymous questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 1,875 physicians practicing in California. Data from 763 returned questionnaires (41%) were analyzed.

Results: Our data show that 7% of this sample were clinically depressed, 13% reported using sedatives or tranquilizers, over 53% reported severe to moderate stress, and only 38% described their level of daily stress as slight. About 4% self-reported recent marijuana use. More than 6% screened positive for alcohol abuse and 5% for gambling problems. Thirty-five percent of participants reported "no" or "occasional" exercise. About 27% self-reported "never" or "occasionally" eating breakfast. In addition, 34% reported 6 or fewer hours of sleep daily, while 21% self-reported working more than 60 hours per week. Physicians' excessive number of work hours (more than 65 hours per week) was associated with lack of exercise, not eating breakfast, and sleeping fewer than 6 hours per night. California physicians report breast, cervical, colorectal, and prostate cancer screening behaviors that exceeded population estimates in California and Healthy People 2010 national goals.

Conclusion: Additional interventions designed to improve physicians' lifestyles and personal health behaviors should be encouraged. A focus on creating healthy lifestyles will benefit physicians as much as the general population.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Attitude to Health
  • California / epidemiology
  • Ethnic Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Gambling
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires