Doctors’ Bad Habits

turtleby Danielle Ofri
New York Times Op-ed

Recently, I was talking with a patient about her glucose levels, which have been inching their way toward diabetes. She was honest that she was eating too much junk and knew perfectly well that her diet was not doing her health any favors.

We talked about the circumstances of her daily life, and together came up with the plan: she would try to eat one fruit or vegetable every day, while cutting out one serving of junk food. It was a modest goal, but seemed obtainable. A perfect example of shared decision making.

But after she left, I glanced back at my previous notes and saw that we’d negotiated the exact same compromise during her last appointment. Scrolling back, I could see that at every visit we covered the same nutritional territory, and each time I must have congratulated myself on the excellent patient-centered care.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t getting us anywhere. Her diet hadn’t budged.

We doctors constantly lament how difficult it is get our patients to change their behavior. We rant about those who won’t take their meds, who won’t quit smoking, who never exercise. But the truth is, we are equally intransigent when it comes to changing our own behaviors as caregivers.  (read the complete New York Times Op-ed).