Should Physicians Counsel Patients on Social Health?

June 20, 2018

Although the length of physician appointments are significantly longer in the United States than other parts of the world, many US doctors don’t feel they have enough time to spend with patients. That’s why it’s especially exasperating to many of them when various professional groups and governmental agencies ask them to cram social and public health counseling into patient discussions.

Physicians are often encouraged to educate their patients about everything from seat belts to lead paint to health risks of pollution. For example, earlier this year the editors of the Annals of Internal Medicine urged doctors to sign a pledge committing to talk to their patients about firearms. Putting aside the fact that many clinicians believe that gun use is a private matter that’s none of their business, some wonder where they would find the time to squeeze such a discussion into an already jam-packed schedule.

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