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Fewer U.S. Doctors Bother to Vote

Despite health care system concerns, 25% didn't head to polls in last presidential election

FRIDAY, May 18, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- Even though health care is a major public issue in the United States, the number of doctors who actually vote has declined during the past few decades, researchers report.

A team at Johns Hopkins Medical School compared the voter turnout rate of doctors to that of other occupations in the 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential elections. The other occupations included nurses, lawyers, engineers, farmers, teachers, secretaries, waiters, drivers and laborers.

They found that about 25 percent of doctors said they did not vote in the most recent presidential elections. Lawyers had the highest voter turnout rate, while laborers had the lowest turnout.

After factoring in socioeconomic differences among the groups, the researchers concluded that doctors were no more likely to have voted than secretaries, waiters, drivers, laborers, nurses or engineers. Doctors were significantly less likely to have voted than lawyers, teachers and farmers.

"Physician voter turnout rates in presidential elections are relatively unimpressive considering that physicians have much at stake personally and professionally. One in four physicians did not vote in the last three presidential elections. If physicians remain silent, an important voice is lost in the political process," study co-author Dr. Jennifer Lee, said in a prepared statement.

The study was expected to be presented May19 in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

More information

Find out more about the U.S. health care system at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

SOURCE: Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, news release, May 16, 2007
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