There is a direct, positive link between physicians' preventive health practices and those of their patients, found a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Researchers looked at the screening and vaccination practices of 1488 physicians and their 1 886 791 adult patients in Israel's largest health maintenance organization, Clalit Health Services (CHS). These practices included age appropriate mammography, blood pressure measurement, colorectal screening, annual influenza vaccinations and others. For example, among patients whose physicians had received the influenza vaccine, 49% of patients received flu vaccines compared with 43% of patients whose physicians did not receive the vaccine.
"We found that patients whose physicians adhered to the recommended screening or vaccination practices were significantly more likely to also undergo screening or vaccination compared with patients of noncompliant physicians," writes Dr. Erica Frank, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, with coauthors.
"For every preventive practice we examined, patients of primary care physicians who complied with the recommended preventive practices were significantly more likely to also have complied with those practices than patients of noncompliant physicians," write the authors.
They note that some physicians could improve their personal screening and vaccination practices and that improving their own health should also improve their patients' health.
"We should improve physicians' preventive practices, because patient health could substantially benefit if we do so," the authors conclude.