Does your family physician focus enough on preventative health?

Likely not. We just don’t receive enough formal training about how to counsel appropriately on lifestyle approaches like exercise and nutrition to live a fuller, healthier, longer life.

The idea of starting a blog has been brewing for quite some time. It mostly stems from my observations that family physicians typically give good medical advice, but that our roles in primary prevention can oftentimes be floundering in comparison. The heart of primary prevention and living your best, full life, comes from lifestyle modifications.

In medical school we are taught the ins and outs of chronic disease, complications stemming from these ailments and we learn to great depth the pharmacologic approaches (and sometimes surgical) that we can use to treat. For instance, a patient who presents with high blood pressure. We are able to counsel SO well on the medication options that we can prescribe (and there are many!), and the side effects of each. And yes, we are also taught to counsel on lifestyle recommendations. Commonly documented lifestyle tips are “150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, DASH diet, weight loss”. This is secondary prevention as the disease onset has already taken place! Also, despite the ease of briefly informing a patient to “eat less, move more”, the difficulty at which one has to experience hearing that, and the challenges they foresee in even doing it without adequate supports is tremendous.

The fact of the matter is, lifestyle recommendations for both prevention and management of chronic disease is skimmed over in the North American medical school curriculum; consequently, many family physicians lack confidence in counselling on lifestyle interventions despite its recognized importance according to Stats Canada (reference below).

A pilot study I performed at a Canadian residency program demonstrated that family medicine residents regard lifestyle counselling education such as nutrition to be lacking, and desire this to be taught in training! Isn’t that nuts? One of the very foundational pieces to longevity and good health (irrespective of genes, environment, etc) is under taught!

Here is my attempt to bridge that gap. My aim really is to distill wellness and lifestyle tips that I share with my own patients – from both evidence based research my personal trials.

It is my hope that you find this site to be pleasureful, helpful and inspiring for everyday living and preventative health.

In good health,

Dr. Sandy

Reference: www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-620-m/2005001/article/adults-adultes/8060-eng.htm

This website, including its links to other sites, is not designed to, and should not be construed to, provide individualized medical advice, professional diagnosis, opinion or treatment to you or any other individual, and is not intended as a substitute for medical or professional care and treatment.