Can general practitioners influence the nation's health through a population approach to the provision of lifestyle advice?

Lawler, D., Keen, S. and Neal, R., 2000. Can general practitioners influence the nation's health through a population approach to the provision of lifestyle advice? British Journal of General Practice, 50 (455), pp. 455-459.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Lifestyle advice from general practitioners (GPs) has been shown to have a positive effect on population health. In practice, GPs provide lifestyle advice to a minority of their patients only, those who are high risk or already have symptoms. AIM: To look in depth at GPs' attitudes towards adopting a population approach to lifestyle advice and to use these results to identify ways of maximising the potential of GPs to affect population health. METHOD: Thirty-six GPs, purposively sampled by identifying characteristics likely to affect their health promotion activity, participated in a focus group study. Data from the focus groups were transcribed verbatim and analysed using standard methods. RESULTS: The main themes that emerged suggested that GPs do not take a population approach to lifestyle advice because they prefer a high risk approach and doubt their ability to be effective in a population approach. GPs believed that social, cultural, and environmental factors were the most important determinants of population health. Furthermore, they were concerned about the detrimental effects on the doctor-patient relationship of providing lifestyle advice to all patients. GPs believed that a multi-agency, centrally co-ordinated approach was the preferred way to improve population health and that their role should be limited to secondary prevention. CONCLUSION: Large amounts of resources would be necessary to convince GPs to adopt a population approach to lifestyle advice. Measures to tackle the social and environmental determinants of health may be a more effective and efficient means of improving the nation's health.

Item Type:Article
ISSN:0960-1643
Uncontrolled Keywords:lifestyle advice; population health; GP attitudes
Subjects:Social Sciences > Social Work
Group:School of Health and Social Care
ID Code:11241
Deposited By:Dr Steven Keen
Deposited On:10 Sep 2009 10:55
Last Modified:07 Mar 2013 15:13

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