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Eur J Public Health. 2014 Feb;24(1):79-84. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckt052. Epub 2013 May 30.

Lifestyle interventions in primary health care: professional and organizational challenges.

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  • 11 Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå University, SE-901 85 Umeå, Sweden.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Interventions that support patient efforts at lifestyle changes that reduce tobacco use, hazardous use of alcohol, unhealthy eating habits and insufficient physical activity represent important areas of development for health care. Current research shows that it is challenging to reorient health care toward health promotion. The aim of this study was to explore the extent of health care professional work with lifestyle interventions in Swedish primary health care, and to describe professional knowledge, attitudes and perceived organizational support for lifestyle interventions.

METHODS:

The study is based on a cross-sectional Web-based survey directed at general practitioners, other physicians, residents, public health nurses and registered nurses (n = 315) in primary health care.

RESULTS:

Fifty-nine percent of the participants indicated that lifestyle interventions were a substantial part of their duties. A majority (77%) would like to work more with patient lifestyles. Health professionals generally reported a thorough knowledge of lifestyle intervention methods for disease prevention. Significant differences between professional groups were found with regard to specific knowledge and extent of work with lifestyle interventions. Alcohol was the least addressed lifestyle habit. Management was supportive, but structures to sustain work with lifestyle interventions were scarce, and a need for national guidelines was identified.

CONCLUSIONS:

Health professionals reported thorough knowledge and positive attitudes toward lifestyle interventions. When planning for further implementation of lifestyle interventions in primary health care, differences between professional groups in knowledge, extent of work with promotion of healthy lifestyles and lifestyle issues and provision of organizational support such as national guidelines should be considered.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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