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Your Physician and You

Creating health in your life—whether you are reaching a healthy weight, revamping the quality of your sleep, or restructuring your career to eliminate stress—is always easier when you have a support system.

Your support system reinforces your health bubble with positive encouragement and emotional support for the times you struggle or need a helping hand. Typically, we talk about your support system consisting of friends, family members, and a health coach. These are all people that know you and understand the challenges you face. They want the best for you and will understand that adopting new Habits of Health takes time and effort.

These people are important, but we often only mention another key member of your support system in passing: your primary care physician (PCP).

Physicians are essential to changing the direction of health. As more physicians recognize that preventing disease is more effective than reacting to disease, we are likely to see current health trends—like the rise in type 2 diabetes and other obesity related disease—begin to change. Researchers from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD recently released research that proves just how much impact physicians can have.

According to their study, obese patients who gave their doctors a high helpfulness rating were most likely to lose the greatest amount of weight. Important note: these patients also had health coaches. Essentially, the physicians who had meaningful rapport with patients and were empathetic had a measurable corollary influence on how their patient’s changed their health. The study also notes that this idea is not new. A significant body of research has found that patient-physician relationships can influence treatment and health in a number of ways.

Since most readers will be patients, here is what this research should mean to you:

  • Always consult your physician before making any significant changes in nutrition or activity.
  • If you don’t feel as though your physician supports your health goals and takes the time to understand you as a person, consider seeking out a new PCP.
  • If you are looking for a new PCP, ask your support system for recommendations. If someone you know has made the kind of health changes that you would like to make, they might be a good place to start.
  • Regular check-ups are a Habit of Health that support longevity, and talking to the same PCP each time is ideal. If you rely on emergency room visits or convenient, no-appointment walk-in facilities, you are unlikely to get any significant personalized attention or support.
  • If you love your PCP already, don’t be afraid to talk about your experience with your support network. You might be able to help someone else find a supportive PCP.

How has your PCP helped you with your Optimal Health journey? Share your story!

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