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J Prev Med Public Health. 2019 Sep;52(5):323-332. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.19.184. Epub 2019 Sep 17.

Patients' and General Practitioners' Views About Preventive Care in Family Medicine in Switzerland: A Cross-sectional Study.

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Department of Family Medicine, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Center for Primary care and Public Health (Unisanté), University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.



The aim of this study was to describe general practitioners (GPs)' opinions and practices of preventive care and patients' opinions, attitudes, and behaviors towards prevention.


The data stemmed from a cross-sectional national survey on prevention conducted in Switzerland from 2015 to 2016. In total, 170 randomly drawn GPs and 1154 of their patients participated. The GPs answered an online questionnaire and the patients answered a questionnaire administrated by fieldworkers present at their practices.


Both patients and GPs agreed that delivering preventive care is the dedicated role of a GP. It appeared that beyond classical topics of prevention such as cardiovascular risk factors, other prevention areas (e.g., cannabis consumption, immunization, occupational risks) were scarcely covered by GPs and reported as little-known by patients. In addition, GPs seemed to use a selective approach to prevention, responding to the clinical context, rather than a systematic approach to health promotion. The results also highlight possibilities to improve prevention in family medicine through options such as more supportive tools and public advertising, more time and more delegated tasks and, finally, a more recognized role.


Despite an unfavorable context of prevention within the healthcare system, preventive care in family medicine is reasonably good in Switzerland. However, some limitations appear regarding the topics and the circumstances of preventive care delivery. A global effort is needed to implement necessary changes, and the responsibility should be broadened to other stakeholders.


Attitude; General practitioner; Patients; Practices; Preventive care; Switzerland

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