March 1998

Media Contacts: Sarah Goodwin, 404/727-3366 - sgoodwi@emory.edu
Kathi Ovnic, 404/727-9371 - covnic@emory.edu

Women physicians may be considered exemplary role models for making healthy choices, suggest Emory University researchers in this week's Archives of Internal Medicine.

Upon examination of data from a study of 4,501 women physicians, the researchers found that when compared with the general female population, only 3.7 percent of women physicians smoked cigarettes; they almost never drank large amounts of alcohol; they consistently underwent health screenings and testing; they were more likely to wear seatbelts, and they ate somewhat more fruits and vegetables and less fat than other U.S. women.

"What are the implications of these findings?" ask Emory's Erica Frank, M.D., M.P.H., and her co-authors. "It is important to know physicians' health-related choices since physicians are social models and their personal health-related choices may influence their practices in counseling patients. Additionally, women physicians may provide estimates of the achievability of goals for women in the general population.

"We found that, unlike other women (even those of high socioeconomic status), women physicians exceeded the goals stated in Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives in all examined behaviors."

Data comes from the Women Physicians' Health Study and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Frank is assistant professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine and an adjunct faculty member of Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health. She is principal investigator of the Women Physicians' Health Study, a national survey with 716 questions asked of 4,501 women physicians.

Co-authors of the paper include Drs. Donna Brogan, professor of Biostatistics at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health; Ali Mokdad of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Eduardo Simoes of the University of St. Louis School of Public Health; Henry Kahn, M.D., professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine, and Raymond Greenberg, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Emory Medical Care Foundation, the American Medical Association's Education and Research Foundation and the American Heart Association.


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