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One in three physicians unlikely to get routine medical care

Doctor, heal thyself? That seems the motto among a group of physicians surveyed by Johns Hopkins researchers: More than a third said they were unlikely to see a doctor on a regular basis.

Of 915 physicians queried by the Hopkins team, 312 (34 percent) said they had no regular source of care. Internists, surgeons and pathologists were significantly less likely to have a regular health provider than pediatricians or psychiatrists, the survey found. And those that reported no regular source of care were less likely to get flu shots or recommended breast, colon and prostate cancer screenings over the next six years.

Results of the study, published in the Nov. 27 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, also reported that those less likely to get regular medical attention reject care because they think it's unnecessary. They either believe they can take care of themselves or that their health is a matter of luck or chance.

"The interventions that physicians didn't take advantage of mainly screening for colon cancer also are practiced less among the general population," says Michael J. Klag, M.D., M.P.H., interim chairman for the Department of Medicine at Hopkins and director of the study. "Still, because physicians' health beliefs and practices influence how they treat patients, we would like to see all health providers take advantage of these potentially life-saving medical tests."

The doctors surveyed were less likely to have a regular care provider than those in the general population, where about 15 percent don't have a regular source of care. But overall, physicians' use of preventive health measures was much higher than that of the general population, "so on average, physicians do practice what they preach," Klag says.

The research team, led by Cary P. Gross, M.D., drew their survey subjects from the Johns Hopkins Precursors Study, a long-term investigation of 1,337 medical students, mostly male, enrolled at Hopkins between 1948 a
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Contact: Karen Infeld
kinfeld@jhmi.edu
410-955-1534
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
26-Nov-2000


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