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Open Access Research article

The waiting room: vector for health education? the general practitioner’s point of view

Maxine Gignon123*, Hadjila Idris1, Cecile Manaouil1 and Oliver Ganry12

Author Affiliations

1 Medical School, Jules Verne University of Picardy, 3 rue des Louvels, F-80000, Amiens, France

2 Public Health Department, Amiens University Hospital, Amiens, France

3 Health Education Department, EA3412, UFR-SMBH Leonard de Vinci-Université Paris-Nord, Bobigny, France

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:511  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-511

Published: 18 September 2012



General practitioners (GPs) play a central role in disseminating information and most health policies are tending to develop this pivotal role of GPs in dissemination of health-related information to the public. The objective of this study was to evaluate use of the waiting room by GPs as a vector for health promotion.


A cross-sectional study was conducted on a representative sample of GPs using semi-structured, face-to-face interviews. A structured grid was used to describe the documents. Quantitative and qualitative analysis was performed. Sixty GPs participated in the study. They stated that a waiting room had to be pleasant, but agreed that it was a useful vector for providing health information. The GPs stated that they distributed documents designed to improve patient care by encouraging screening, providing health education information and addressing delicate subjects more easily. However, some physicians believed that this information can sometimes make patients more anxious. A large number of documents were often available, covering a variety of topics.


General practitioners intentionally use their waiting rooms to disseminate a broad range of health-related information, but without developing a clearly defined strategy. It would be interesting to correlate the topics addressed by waiting room documents with prevention practices introduced during the visit.

Health education; Health promotion; Family practice; Physician’s office; Health policy; Public health