- Health promotion is the foundation to prevent disease-related risk factors. It is a multi-discipLinary activity including several professions. Within this complex, the physician has an important role in prevention and counseling on heaLthy lifestyLe in order to reduce morbidity and mortality. Nevertheless, there are many factors impeding the physician's involvement in health promotion counseling. This review aims to investigate the physician's role in health promotion during the clinical encounter. The authors focus on a healthy lifestyle, especially on diet, smoking cessation and physical activity. The article presents the evidence related to physicians' ability and self efficacy in health promotion, the type of counseling to be provided, time allocated, efficiency of counseling, model employed during the clinical encounter and factors impeding or promoting the counseling. The understanding of attitudes, strength of the evidence available regarding the efficacy of counseling and the factors promoting or impeding physicians in providing health promotion advice will help to remove existing barriers and to develop training programs to encourage physicians to be involved in primary and secondary prevention during the clinicaL encounter.