Should healthcare professionals lead by example?
Isn’t this an interesting question? If, in the days of travelling salesmen, a bald chap was trying to sell hair restorer then his potential customers would wonder why he didn’t use it on his own head.
Fast forward to a few years ago. We had a bunch of clients whose start-up business was selling self-help tapes that the user listened to when asleep.
The idea,of course, was that this would provide subliminal messages and if your brain was bombarded all night by ‘you shall not smoke, you shall not smoke’ then your tobacco habit would be thing of the past.
My concern was that one of these tapes was ‘guaranteed’ to help you lose weight and yet one of the owners of the company had a severe avoirdupois problem.
Follow this through from the interior designer whose own home is a dump to the anorexic baker and before long you arrive at the dentist with bad teeth.
Then you’re only a step away from the unhealthy health professional.
Go to see a doctor regarding just about any ailment, and he or she may at some time during the consultation suggest that you lose weight. Which may well be good advice. But if the doctor in question is overweight, you’re bound to wonder why they don’t take their own advice.
In the old days, many a doctor would advise giving up alcohol when it was well known locally that had it not been for his custom, the local pub would have gone bankrupt.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with empathy. If a medical professional who looks out of shape says ‘I know it’s not easy to take more exercise; I should myself’ then he or she is being honest and can identify with you but it doesn’t encourage the patient to take the advice.
If we visit the doctor because of an ailment we can’t help, flu or eczema or similar, that’s one thing. But when your condition relies on self help and better habits, isn’t that a different matter?