Objective: To examine the health-related behaviors of women physicians compared with those of other women of high and not high socioeconomic status and with national goals.
Methods: We examined the results of a questionnaire-based survey of a stratified random sample, the Women Physicians' Health Study, and a US telephone survey (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga). We analyzed 3 samples of women aged 30 to 70 years: (1) respondents from the Women Physicians' Health Study (n = 4501); (2) respondents from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (n = 1316) of the highest socioeconomic status; and (3) all other respondents from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (n = 35,361).
Results: Women physicians were more likely than other women of high socioeconomic status and even more likely than other women not to smoke. The few physicians (3.7%) who smoked reported consuming fewer cigarettes per day, and physicians who had stopped smoking reported quitting at a younger age than women in the general population. Women physicians were less likely to report abstaining from alcohol, but those who drank reported consuming less alcohol per episode than other women and were less likely to report binging on alcohol than women in the general population. Unlike women in the general population and even other women of high socioeconomic status, women physicians' reported behaviors exceeded national goals for the year 2000 in all examined behaviors and screening habits.
Conclusions: Women physicians report having generally good health habits even when compared with other socioeconomically advantaged women and report exceeding all examined national goals for personal screening practices and other personal health behaviors. Women physicians' behaviors may provide useful standards for other women in the United States.