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Healthy Patients Linked to Healthy Doctors

Update Date: Apr 08, 2013 11:55 AM EDT

A new study reveals that patients of doctors who follow preventive health practices like getting a flu shot or mammography are more likely to do the same.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia and Israel have found that patients whose doctors adhered to the recommended screening or vaccination practices were significantly more likely to also undergo screening or vaccination compared with patients of non-compliant doctors.

In the latest study published April 8 in the edition of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers examined the screening and vaccination practices of 1,488 doctors and their almost 1.9 million adult patients in Israel's largest health care organization, Clalit Health Services (CHS).  Researchers looked at practices such as mammography, blood pressure measurement, colorectal screening, annual influenza vaccinations and others.

The study found that 49 percent of patients of doctors who received a flu shot also received the vaccine compared with 43 percent of patients whose doctors did not receive the vaccine.

While the study found only a 6 percent difference, researchers said the findings highlight the need for doctors to improve their personal screening and vaccination practices.

"While physicians' health habits are generally exemplary, doctors could improve some of their personal screening and vaccination practices, which should improve the health practices of their patients," researcher Dr. Erica Frank of UBC's School of Population and Public Health said in a statement.

Frank and her team also recommend that hospitals and medical schools develop programs for physician health promotion to support a healthy doctor-healthy patient relationship.

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