Doctors say, and do, the darndest things

October 9, 2000
Mark Crane

Some responses to our lifestyle survey were a bit bewildering, amusing, or perhaps frightening, depending on your point of view.


Getting Personal

Doctors say, and do, the darndest things

Some responses to our lifestyle survey were a bit bewildering, amusing, or perhaps frightening, depending on your point of view.

By Mark Crane,
Special Issue Editor

Okay, we assume that most physicians are honest about filling out survey questionnaires. So we're taking them at their word when they describe their political and religious beliefs, along with the lifestyle choices they make. Still, we wondered about some of the responses, the ones that had a few of us scratching our heads, saying, "Who would have thought that?"

Now we realize that some folks may take perverse pleasure in zinging inquisitors who ask exceptionally nosy questions about their sex lives, television viewing habits, and susceptibility to vice. For example, to our question of what you would do with an extra $100,000, one physician came back at us with, "Send it first. Then I'll tell you." In response to questions about sex, a few doctors wrote back, "None of your business."

We also realize that in a survey of more than 2,000 physicians, there are bound to be a few "outliers" who march to their own drummer. Nevertheless, some respondents offered us truly unexpected answers. A sampling:

  • "Answering questionnaires" is one response we got to the question, "What is the No. 1 activity you do with your nonwork time?" Another said, "If I'm not fishing, I cut wood for people's fireplaces."

  • One physician donated $20,000 for an animal sanctuary. Another gave $50,000 to the National Rifle Association.

  • One gun enthusiast owns an AK-47 along with a slew of rifles, handguns, and shotguns.

Beyond the individual responses, here are a few numbers that especially surprised us.

13 percent of psychiatrists don't watch television—at all.

13 physicians (all of them men, in several specialties) say Wheel of Fortune is their favorite television show.

3 physicians (two men and one woman) say the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives is their favorite show.

2 doctors are hooked on Judge Judy.

2 physicians are enamored of the Pokémon Show. We hope they're watching with their kids or grandkids, but who knows? (On a positive note, none of our respondents listed the Jerry Springer Show among their favorites.)

2 male doctors say The Godfather was the book that had the greatest impact on their lives. Jonathan Livingston Seagull received three votes.

3 female physicians smoke cigars (though no women in our survey are pipe smokers).

27 doctors married or are living with attorneys, 12 with artists, and three with actresses.

50 doctors say Nevada gambling resorts are the perfect vacation spot.

Go figure.


Mark Crane. Doctors say, and do, the darndest things. Medical Economics 2000;19:209.