A new survey says Americans trust their doctors more than anyone to give them medical advice, yet they seek medical advice more often from online sources. Photo credit: Angelsharem/WikimediaCommons.
Tennesseans looking to keep their New Year’s resolutions may be forgetting a key advocate as they work their way towards better health. A new survey finds the majority of Americans are looking to make changes to their diet and exercise this year – yet only about half of them will consult his or her doctor as part of the process. Dr. Glen Stream, board chair of the Family Medicine for America’s Health, says many Americans are bypassing a valuable resource. “Your family doctor can help sort through all of those potential options as far as different diets are out there, to find the one that may both be the most effective, but also the safest and the most medically appropriate for us,” he stresses. Stream adds a family doctor can help cut through the barrage of health and diet information that’s available. According to the survey from Family Medicine for America’s Health, Americans have the most trust by far in physicians to provide advice about healthy behaviors, yet they turn most often to online sources. Stream understands that some people are embarrassed or nervous about discussing diet and exercise with their doctor, but he says a personal physician should be considered an ally. “So often, patients come in with medical issues that are so difficult to treat,” he relates. “I think if the patient comes in and says, ‘You know, I’m ready to change my lifestyle and I want you to help me.’ Those sorts of interactions – for me, as a physician – make my day.” Stream points out that money spent on treatment of medical conditions far exceeds prevention. And he says more emphasis on primary care and prevention could help address the country’s growing rates of chronic disease. “Investing in this type of primary care and wellness not only promotes better health status, but we know that that investment helps reduce the total cost of our health care system, and that’s important to everybody,” he states.