CARDIAC CARE: Physicians Failing To Counsel Patients
The majority of doctors are not counseling their patients about behavior modifications that could cut their risk for heart disease, according to a study released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doctors counseled patients about exercise during 19% of office visits, on diet during 23% of visits and on weight reduction during 10.4% of visits. Only 41% of cigarette smokers were advised during office visits to quit smoking. Patients most likely to receive advice were those in the 50-64 age group, despite recommendations that heart-healthy habits be adopted at much earlier ages. Cardiologists were found to be the most likely to counsel patients about better heart care, followed by family physicians, internists and obstetricians/gynecologists. Though research suggests that a doctor's advice on improving health habits can be a major motivating factor for patients, doctors are often hampered by time constraints, inadequate training and pessimism about their ability to motivate patients, the survey concluded. The CDC study recommends that physician training programs put added emphasis on preventive counseling and that physician specialty groups give member physicians feedback on counseling ( Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Synopsis, 2/13). The findings were based on a 1995 analysis of 29,273 doctor visits (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 2/13).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.