Objective: Doctors' health matters because healthy physicians are more productive and because physicians' health practices affects their patient counseling habits, but there are few objective data on this topic.
Methods: An examination of differences in screening quality health indicators between physicians (n=429) and 1621 age, gender, and socioeconomically matched patient controls from our district Health Maintenance Organization in Israel during the first half of 2008.
Results: Doctors and matched patients had similar rates for low-density lipoprotein measurement (85%/84%=NS), colorectal cancer screening (23%/27%=NS), influenza vaccine among the chronically ill (23%/24%=NS), and mammography (for women, 55%/57%=NS). Doctors with hypertension had blood pressures clinically recorded considerably less frequently than matched patients do (56%/77%, p<0.001), and their smoking habits were recorded less often, but their recorded tobacco habits were significantly better. Physician-patient contrasts were also minimal (again except for clinician-recorded blood pressure and smoking) among the chronically ill.
Conclusions: These are the first objective data of which we know that test (and confirm) prior self-reported data that physicians' screening experiences are similar to patients'. Improving physicians' personal screening could also improve patient screening: physicians' self-reported primary prevention habits are considerably better than patients' and have been shown repeatedly to strongly and consistently positively influence patient counseling practices, and hence the health of the public.
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