Survey: Majority of physicians don't think patients listen to lifestyle advice

Although physicians and nurses said they give at least some of their patients advice on making changes to maintain health and prevent disease, more than 70 percent of these healthcare providers believe patients only listen to this advice sometimes or rarely, according to Medscape poll.

Medscape received poll responses from more than 500 healthcare professionals, including 358 physicians and 157 nurses, who weighed in on giving patients lifestyle advice.

Here are five findings from the poll.

1. While all nurses and physicians who responded to the poll said they advise at least some of their patients to change lifestyle practices to reduce disease risk, only 61 percent of physicians and 53 percent of nurses said they always offer lifestyle advice.

2. Roughly one-third of physicians (32 percent) and 36 percent of nurses or advanced practice nurses said they "often" offered lifestyle advice, while 6 percent of physicians and 8 percent of nurses said they "sometimes" offer it.

3. When physicians did advise patients, they were most likely to recommend increased physical activity (90 percent), improving nutrition and diet (80 percent), and quitting smoking (82 percent). Nurses answered similarly.

4. Physicians were significantly more likely than nurses to advise losing weight, with 76 percent of physicians recommending that lifestyle change compared to 61 percent of nurses.

5. Physicians and nurses were less likely to advise patients on socializing and sexual behavior. Recommendations to increase socializing were made by 23 percent of physicians and 24 percent of nurses, while 12 percent of physicians and 8 percent of nurses said they advised patients to make a change in sexual behavior.

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