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Majority of Physicians Take on Public Roles

Community activities and collective advocacy viewed as very important by most

TUESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- About two-thirds of physicians report being actively involved in public roles related to the community, including political involvement and collective advocacy, according to study findings published in the Nov. 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Russell Gruen, Ph.D., of the University of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues mailed surveys to 1,662 primary care and non-primary care specialist physicians in the United States to determine their views on the importance of community participation, political involvement and collective advocacy, how often they assumed a public role and what factors were related to these activities.

More than 90 percent of respondents rated public activities as important, with a majority rating community activity and collective advocacy as very important. Two-thirds of respondents reported participating in one of the three types of public roles within the last three years. Age, female sex and graduation from a non-U.S. or non-Canadian medical school were linked to assigning high importance to public participation.

"A variety of personal, professional and practice characteristics may influence physicians' civic mindedness and civic activity," the authors conclude. "Confirming and understanding these potential influences could provide important guidance to leaders and policy makers who want to enlist the positive energy of physicians in promoting public health at a societal level."

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