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June 17, 1983

Why Not Share the Secrets of Good Health?The Physician's Role in Health Promotion

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Medicine and Community Medicine, University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, Memphis.

JAMA. 1983;249(23):3181-3183. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330470021024

MOST physicians enjoy good health.1 In the United States, the age-standardized death rate for white male physicians is 75% of that for all white men.2 Female physicians have a death rate that is 84% of average. In the past few decades, mortality rates for physicians have declined faster than the rate for the population at large. In England and Wales, physicians had only average mortality rates until 1950. Over the next 20 years, however, their death rates fell steadily when compared with those of the general population.3

Avoidance of cigarettes is a major factor in physicians' good health. In the United States, only 21% of male physicians smoke, compared with the national average of 39%. Sixty-four percent of physicians who formerly smoked have quit.4 Studies of British physicians have indicated that the primary factor responsible for their lowered mortality was their success in giving up cigarette