Health care providers are disconnected from patients regarding self-care. We know from many studies that self-care and lifestyle behaviors are some of the most effective ways to prevent and even treat chronic health conditions, including depressed mood, anxiety, pain, and chronic stress as well as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular diseases—even cancer.
Unfortunately, the term “self-care” has become muddled and is reminiscent of anything a person does to feel good including “retail therapy.” But self-care is a serious element of health and healing, both in and out of the doctor’s office.
To help providers and patients harness the power of self-care and better understand its role in the provider’s office, my team and I commissioned a nationwide survey by The Harris Poll involving more than 1,000 U.S. adults and more than 300 family medicine and internal medicine physicians.
The findings were powerful and surprising:
- Although, more than 9 in 10 physicians (96%) say that self-care should be considered an essential part of overall health, 75 percent of patients say they haven’t discussed self-care with their physician in the past two years.
- An impressive 85 percent of physicians agree that a large part of their job is to provide both medical treatments and encourage self-care practices for their patients. And yet, patients say they aren’t getting what they need. In fact, two out of three patients say they want more information from physicians on self-care.
SEE INFOGRAPHIC FOR PATIENTS
SEE INFOGRAPHIC FOR PROVIDERS
Physicians said they talked about self-care to patients but did not have time to help them further in behavior change. Patients said they rarely recall physicians addressing self-care seriously. These findings highlight the disconnect between how physicians are caring for their patients versus what patients perceive, want, and need.
View the full report to read the findings and see the solutions I’ve mapped out that can be practiced or taught today.
Whether you are a patient or provider, at your next office visit, initiate a discussion about self-care and lifestyle. Ask how you can bring healthy behavior to the forefront of the discussion and develop a plan for effective behavior change. Doctors and patients both will benefit from holding these discussions as they will help guide anyone on a journey to good health.