The following article is part of The Clinical Advisor’s coverage from the 2018 American Academy of Physician Assistants’ annual meeting in New Orleans. Our staff will be reporting live on original research, case studies, and professional outreach and advocacy news from leading PAs in many specialty areas. Check back for ongoing updates from AAPA 2018. 

NEW ORLEANS —A survey has revealed inconsistencies between clinician practices and what they advise their patients, with variations among the different clinician types, according to research presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants’ (AAPA) 2018 conference.

C. Carr, PA-S, of the Department of Physician Assistant, School of Health and Medical Sciences at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, and associates conducted a 10-question survey-based analysis to determine if any discrepancies exist among health maintenance clinician practices and what they recommend to their patients, as well as any potential differences between different types of healthcare providers, namely physicians (MD, DOs), physician assistants (PAs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs).

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In the survey, health maintenance included tobacco use, exercise, body mass index (BMI), sleep, alcohol consumption, annual check-ups, and adherence to the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) screening guidelines. The survey also asked about clinician agreements with patient counseling and their personal health practices.

A total of 418 completed surveys included results from 45 physicians, 195 RNs, 125 PAs, and 53 NPs.

The investigators reported a significant difference between NPs and PAs to advise patients to quit smoking; NPs were least likely patients to quit smoking. Compared with physicians, RNs, and NPs, PAs were less likely to discuss the importance of healthy lifestyles with their patients.

In addition, the researchers reported that physicians were the most unlikely to receive a physical exam from another physician, had the least amount of sleep, and the most unlikely to always follow health maintenance recommendations that they advise to their patients.

For USPSTF guideline adherence, alcohol or tobacco consumption, exercise, or annual exam recommendations, results were insignificantly different among RNs, NPs, PAs, and physicians.

“Our analysis demonstrated discrepancies between patient education and what the provider practiced; however it differed between each health maintenance parameter,” the authors concluded. “With the finding that there is a strong correlation, it is vital for clinicians to review these various discrepancies found within their respective professions, including health maintenance parameters that were not represented well through patient education.”

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Carr C, Donohue E, Las S, Lopez T, Twomey K. Health maintenance practices of clinicians and what they advise their patients. Presented at the American Academy of Physician Assistants 2018 conference; May 19-23, 2018; New Orleans. Poster 194.