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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 18(2)

What predicts patient-reported GP management of smoking, nutrition, alcohol, physical activity and weight?

Mark F. Harris A E, Mahnaz Fanaian A, Upali W. Jayasinghe A, Megan Passey B, David Lyle C, Suzanne McKenzie D and Gawaine Powell Davies A

A Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, 3rd Floor AGSM Building, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.
B University Centre for Rural Health – North Coast, University of Sydney, PO Box 3074, Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia.
C Broken Hill Department of Rural Health, University of Sydney, PO Box 457, Broken Hill, NSW 2880, Australia.
D School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, Qld 4811, Australia.
E Corresponding author. Email: m.f.harris@unsw.edu.au

Australian Journal of Primary Health 18(2) 123-128 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/PY11024
Submitted: 26 February 2011  Accepted: 20 June 2011   Published: 7 November 2011

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This study aimed to describe patient-reported management of behavioural risk factors in Australian general practice. Six hundred and ninety-eight eligible patients from 30 general practices in two rural and three urban Divisions of General Practice responded to a mailed invitation to participate and completed a questionnaire. Data were analysed using univariate and multi-level multivariate methods. The prevalence of risk factors varied between 12.6% for smoking and 72.6% for at-risk diet (56.2% were overweight). Most patients were at the action or maintenance phases of their readiness to change their risky behaviours. General practitioners (GPs) provided education or advice to between one-quarter and one-third of those at risk for each risk factor; 9.2% and 9.6% of patients reported having been referred for diet or physical activity interventions. Patient body mass index was associated with increased likelihood of receiving GP advice or referral for diet and physical activity interventions. Having poor diet or physical activity levels and being more ready for change were not associated with the likelihood of GP referral. The major challenge for general practice is to ensure that effective lifestyle interventions are provided to those who will most benefit. Patient-reported GP behavioural risk factor advice and referral is less frequent than is optimal. Priority needs to be given to those most at risk and ready to change their behaviour.

Additional keywords: behavioural risk factors, general practice, lifestyle modification programs, overweight, primary health care.


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