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Chronic Disease Prevalence and Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors Among US Health Care Professionals

Published:September 29, 2015DOI:


      Although health care professionals may be assumed to make healthier lifestyle choices and have better health outcomes than others because of their greater health literacy, little is known about how actual health outcomes of health care professionals compare with those of the overall population. We analyzed how trends in obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease prevalence as well as several health behaviors (smoking, alcohol use, and exercise) varied between health care professionals and the general US population from 2002 to 2013, using nationally representative data collected by the National Health Interview Survey. We estimated multivariate logistic regressions of each disease and behavior adjusted for age, race, sex, geographic region, and year. Although rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension were lower among health care professionals compared with the overall population, disease was still common among health care professionals and increased over time at a rate similar to that of the overall population. For example, obesity prevalence was lower among health care professionals but increased similarly from 2002 to 2013 (health care professionals, 20.5% in 2002 to 22.1% in 2013; other occupations, 28.4% to 31.7%; P=.64 for difference in trend). Diabetes prevalence was modestly lower among health care professionals but increased at a similar rate (health care professionals, 7.4% in 2005 to 8.6% in 2013; other occupations, 8.7% to 9.9%; P=.67 for difference in trend). Similar patterns were noted in hypertension. Coronary artery disease prevalence declined over time among health care professionals but increased for others. Health care professionals reported better health behaviors than others in smoking and physical activity but not in moderate to heavy alcohol use.
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      2. United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Standard Occupational Classification. Available at: Updated March 1, 2010. Accessed February 24, 2015.

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