Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.
The objectives of this study were to explore characteristics of the long-lived Thai physicians. We sent 983 posted questionnaires to 840 male and 143 female physicians. We obtained 327 of them back after 2 rounds of mailing, yielding a response rate of 33.3 percents. The response rate of male physicians was 32.4 percents and that of female physicians was 38.5 percents. Their ages were between 68-93 years (75.1 +/- 4.86 years on average). The majority were married, implying that their spouses were also long-lived. Around half of them still did some clinical work, one-fourth did some charity work, one-fourth did various voluntary works, one-fifth did some business, one-fifth did some academic work, and some did more than one type of work. Most long-lived physicians were not obese, with BMI of 16.53-34.16 (average 23.97 +/- 2.80). Only 8 had BMI higher than 30. BMIs were not different between male and female physicians. However, four-fifths of them had diseases that required treatment, and some of them had more than one disease. The five most frequent diseases were hypertension, diabetes, ischemic heart disease, dyslipidemia, and benign prostate hypertrophy, respectively. Most long-lived physicians did exercise (87.8%), and some did more than one method. The most frequent one was walking (52.3%). Most did not drink alcohol or drank occasionally, only 9.0% drank regularly. Most of them slept 3-9 hours per night (average 6.75 +/- 1.06). Most (78.3%) took some medication regularly; of most were medicine for their diseases. Most did not eat macrobiotic food, vegetarian food, or fast food regularly. Most long-lived physicians practiced some religious activities by praying, paying respect to Buddha, giving food to monks, practicing meditation, and listening to monks’ teaching. They also used Buddhist practice and guidelines for their daily living and work, and also recommended these to their younger colleagues. Their recreational activities were playing musical instruments (15%), singing (27%), doing hobbies (64.0%), and others (51.8%). Most did not reply on question whether they achieved their self-actualization target of their lives, this might result from the fact that this was rather an abstract question. Our first part study revealed some characteristics of long-lived Thai physicians that seem to be in agreement with other studies indicating that physicians compared favorably with the general population in mortality from physical illness. This may result from several factors: the medical student selective process leading to “healthy worker effect”, knowledge in medicine, access to care, and their healthy behaviors (such as nutrition, exercise, religious activities which help improve their spiritual well-being).