Table of Contents
ISRN Epidemiology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 176020, 10 pages
Research Article

Personal Health Practices and Patient Counseling of German Physicians in Private Practice

1Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences, Friedensau Adventist University, An der Ihle 19, 39291 Friedensau, Germany
2Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia, 2206 East Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z3
3Freiburg Institute for Musicians' Medicine, Medical School of University of Freiburg, Breisacher Straße 60, 79106 Freiburg, Germany

Received 14 May 2013; Accepted 10 July 2013

Academic Editors: D. Mandal and J. Peters

Copyright © 2013 Edgar Voltmer et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We examined physicians' personal health behaviors and the influence on their patient counseling practices in a representative sample ( ) of physicians in private practice in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Physicians reported significantly better physical but poorer mental health compared to the general population (GP; ). The majority presented with normal weight (47.9% male, 73.1% female physicians versus 24.5/41.0% GP) or overweight (47.5% male, 20.0% female versus 52.9/35.6% GP). Frequency of exercise and fruit and vegetable consumption was higher than in the GP. About 70% drank coffee or tea more than once a day, but only 13.2% of female and 21.8% of male physicians were current smokers (GP 20.1/30.5%). More than half (56.1%) usually or always counseled a typical patient on exercise versus nutrition (47.0%), weight (45.8%), smoking (39.9%), and alcohol (30.0%). Doctors with better personal exercise, nutrition, smoking, and alcohol behaviors counseled their patients significantly more often on related topics. Despite better physical health and health behaviors in these German doctors compared to the GP, there is room for improvement (smoking, overweight), which could be expected to positively influence the counseling practice and impact of doctors' role modeling on patients.