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BMC Public Health. 2012 Nov 7;12:953. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-953.

Increasing the use of preventative health services to promote healthy eating, physical activity and weight management: the acceptability and potential effectiveness of a proactive telemarketing approach.

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School of Medicine and Public Health, The University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.



Telephone based interventions are effective in promoting health behaviours. The use of telephone based support services to promote healthy eating, activity or weight loss, however, are currently under-utilised. The aim of this study was to assess the acceptability and potential effectiveness of a telemarketing approach in increasing community use of proactive services to encourage healthy eating, physical activity and weight loss.


The study employed a cross sectional design. Eligible consenting participants completed a 15 minute telephone survey conducted by trained telephone interviewers using computer assisted telephone interviewing technology.


Overall, 87% of participants considered it acceptable for a health service to contact people by telephone to offer assistance to help them lose weight, eat healthily or be more physically active. Among participants with inadequate fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity or who were overweight, 64%, 54% and 61% respectively reported that they would use one or more of the proactive support services offered. Females and those from non -English speaking households who did not eat sufficient serves were significantly more likely to report that they would use support services.


The findings suggest that proactive telemarketing of health services to facilitate healthy eating, physical activity or weight loss is considered highly acceptable and may be effective in encouraging service use by more than half of all adults with these behavioural risks.

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