New research conducted at the University of British Columbia reveals that patients are more likely to follow recommended vaccination practices if their doctors also follow, compared to those who don't.
Dr. Erica Frank of UBC's School of Population and Public Health, said:
"We found that patients whose physicians adhered to the recommended screening or vaccination practices were significantly more likely to also undergo screening or vaccination compared with patients of non-compliant physicians."
Along with three other Israeli researchers, Dr. Frank published their findings in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
They analyzed the vaccination and screening practices of a total of 1,488 doctors and almost 1.9 million patients belonging to the largest health care organization in Israel, Clalit Health Services (CHS).
Nearly half of all patients of doctors (49 percent) who received a flu shot also received one compared with only 43 percent of patients whose doctors didn't.
Currently every American above the age of 6 months is recommended to receive an annual influenza immunization - the best way to protect yourself against influenza and its complications is to get vaccinated.
The authors said:
We found a consistent, positive relation between physicians' and patients' preventive health practices. Objectively establishing this healthy doctor-healthy patient relation should encourage prevention-oriented health care systems to better support and evaluate the effects on patients of improving the physical health of medical students and physicians.
This study highlights the importance of doctors following vaccine and screening guidelines.
Dr Frank said: "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."
The authors recommend that programs are developed to ensure doctors follow recommended vaccine and screening guidelines.
Do as I say, not as I do?Patients often look up to their doctors as an example of healthy living. Doctors have a major influence in their decision making. If a doctor decides to avoid a certain vaccination or screening, they might be unwittingly dissuading their patients from following their recommendations.
Written by Joseph Nordqvist