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It can backfire when doctors make a show of their own healthy living

18 April 2017

Doctors who want to avoid accusations of hypocrisy should keep themselves in reasonable shape if they intend to advise their patients to do the same.

Indeed, some medical organisations explicitly encourage their physicians not only to stay fit, but to make sure that their patients know it, thereby role-modelling the recommended behaviours.

However, new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that doctors who promote their own fitness may actually scare away overweight patients who are most in need of help.

Researchers Lauren Howe and Benoît Monin lifted real-life MD profiles from the website of an American medical group, and sorted them into two types.

Fitness-focused profiles explicitly stated that the doctor prioritised staying healthy and active, or cited two or more active hobbies like hiking and biking; meanwhile the other profiles didn’t emphasise fitness.

Read more on our Research Digest blog.


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