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Public Health


Richard Palmer


Physician assistants play a pivotal role in expanding access to care, yet research on their preventive medicine practices is limited. Guided by Lewis's conceptual model for predicting counseling practices, this cross-sectional study examined the relationship between physician assistants' preventive medicine practices, personal health habits, prevention and counseling attitudes, and perceived barriers to the delivery of clinical preventive services. A 104-item self-administered survey was used to collect data from 314 physician assistants attending the American Academy of Physician Assistants' 42nd Annual Conference. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson's correlation, and stepwise multiple regression. Results indicated that physician assistants engaged in preventive medicine activities about half the time, believed it was very important to counsel patients on prevention topics, felt they were somewhat effective in changing patient behaviors, and reported that barriers were somewhat important in hindering preventive care delivery. Significant and predictive relationships between physician assistants' health habits, attitudes, perceived barriers, and practices were found. These findings may guide researchers, providers, policymakers, and the public in making informed and comprehensive health care decisions. This study contributes to social change by serving as a baseline for the creation of effective strategies for physician assistant practice and self-assessment. Additionally, data from this study can be used to advocate changes in the education, training, and certification of physician assistants, as well as foster medicine and public health collaborations.