NEW YORK — For all of the talk of how you can cut down on your doctor visits, research has found a common theme: Many patients do not want to have to deal with a physical exam.
The results of a study published Monday by the American College of Cardiology and the Mayo Clinic showed that most patients did not want the doctor’s office visit to take place during the middle of their medical stay, and many people wanted to be able to take a quick nap or even take a walk.
According to the study, only 7.7 percent of the 1,072 adults surveyed said they would prefer to not have a physical examination during their medical stays, and just 1.2 percent said they wanted to avoid it.
A similar study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year found that 70 percent of American adults have not had a physical since birth.
In the new study, researchers analyzed the demographics of the participants in a national health care survey from 2010-2012, along with their preferences for physical examinations and their willingness to wait.
The study found that while most of the respondents said they preferred having a physical for health reasons, they also said they were willing to wait until the doctor visited them.
The study also found that more than half of respondents were willing in some way to avoid having to see the doctor in order to be well.
A total of 8,944 respondents were interviewed.
Nearly 70 percent were white and nearly 15 percent were African American.
Nearly half of the people who said they had a doctor visit had a family member or close friend.
About 30 percent of those surveyed said their primary care doctor had never seen a patient.
More than a quarter of the survey participants were women, while nearly half were men.
More people wanted the doctor to do a physical, the study found.
More than two-thirds of those who said no to having a doctor’s visit said it was because they wanted a private visit.
Nearly two-fifths of those said they didn’t want to get a physical.
More people were willing, however, to take walks to be more relaxed about their physical needs.
“The study suggests that patients might not be willing to put up with a doctor physical unless it’s necessary to get better,” said study author Dr. John J. Sullivan, a professor of cardiology and health sciences at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“There’s a real need to think about what our health care system is designed to offer, and we can’t just make patients comfortable by having a medical check up during the week,” he added.
“What we want to see is a physician visit that isn’t mandatory or intrusive.”
The findings could have important implications for how health care systems can work more effectively in the years ahead.
The National Institutes of Health recently released a plan to update the way health care is delivered to improve patient health.
In that plan, the health care industry has pledged to better inform patients about how their doctor visits might affect their health.
Sullivan said his study provides a way to evaluate the impact of health care providers’ physical visits.
The findings also have important consequences for how physicians plan their visits.
People can’t always decide whether or not they would rather be able walk their dog or be in the hospital.
The fact that some people prefer not to have a doctor physically is a sign of the changing nature of medicine, Sullivan said.
“Physicians are doing this because they don’t want patients to have the experience of being in a physical environment, so it’s important that they know this is not a guarantee of getting better,” he said.
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