Academic Psychiatry

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 31–38

Prevalence of Health-Related Behaviors Among Physicians and Medical Trainees

  • Sharon K. Hull
  • Lisabeth F. DiLalla
  • J. Kevin Dorsey
Original Article

DOI: 10.1176/appi.ap.32.1.31

Cite this article as:
Hull, S.K., DiLalla, L.F. & Dorsey, J.K. Acad Psychiatry (2008) 32: 31. doi:10.1176/appi.ap.32.1.31



The authors studied the prevalence of health-promoting and health-risking behaviors among physicians and physicians-in-training. Given the significant potential for negative outcomes to physicians’ own health as well as the health and safety of their patients, examination of the natural history of this acculturation process about physician self-care and wellness is critical to the improvement of the western health care delivery system.


963 matriculating medical students, residents, or attending physicians completed the Empathy, Spirituality, and Wellness in Medicine (ESWIM) survey between the years 2000 and 2004. Items specific to physician wellness were analyzed. These included healthy behaviors as well as risk behaviors.


Both medical students and attending physicians scored higher in overall wellness than did residents. Residents were the lowest scoring group for getting enough sleep, using seatbelts, and exercising. Medical students were more likely to smoke tobacco and drink alcohol. Medical students reported less depression and anxiety and more social contacts.


Medical school training may prevent students from maintaining healthy behaviors, so that by the time they are residents they exercise less sleep less and spend less time in organizational activities outside of medical school. If physicians do not engage in these healthy behaviors, they are less likely to encourage such behaviors in their patients and patients are less likely to listen to them even if they do talk about it.

Copyright information

© Academic Psychiatry 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sharon K. Hull
    • 1
    • 2
  • Lisabeth F. DiLalla
    • 3
  • J. Kevin Dorsey
    • 4
  1. 1.Medical Humanities DepartmentSouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Community Health ScienceNortheastern Ohio University College of Medicine and PharmacyRootstownUSA
  3. 3.Department of Family and Community MedicineSouthern Illinois UniversityCarbondaleUSA
  4. 4.Southern Illinois University School of MedicineCarbondaleUSA