Environmental Health: A Survey of Texas Primary Care Physicians

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Abstract of Journal Article - October 2005

By Winifred J. Hamilton, PhD, SM; Daniel J. Ryder; H. Paul Cooper Jr., MA; Darryl M. Williams, MD, MPH; and Armin D. Weinberg, PhD  

Although the role of environmental health hazards in cancer and other diseases is increasingly appreciated, most physicians have had little or no training in environmental health or in integrating exposure histories into their clinical practice. As part of the Texas Medical Association Physician Oncology Education Program, we mailed a questionnaire to 350 Texas primary care physicians (PCPs) to evaluate their attitudes, practice, training, and preferred sources for information regarding environmental health issues. Of the respondents, 86.1% reported that they had never received specific training in environmental health history-taking and 91.7% indicated a desire to learn more about environmental health hazards. The data also revealed that patients regularly raise questions about environmental topics that PCPs do not routinely discuss. Our findings identify a need for more environmental health education for Texas PCPs, and we suggest several possible mechanisms by which this might be accomplished. 

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