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Med Care. 1995 Sep;33(9):892-905.

The effectiveness and efficiency of health promotion in specialty clinic care.

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System-Linked Research Unit on Health and Social Service Utilization, McMaster University, Faculty of Health Sciences, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Chronic illnesses make up the majority of health problems in North America. Many chronically ill persons adjust over time to their illnesses; however, there remains a small but important group of those less adjusted, who are concentrated in specialty clinics and are high users of health care resources. This randomized clinical trial investigated the impact of health promotion interventions in the form of problem-solving counseling or phone support that augmented conventional clinic medical care. Chronically ill, poorly adjusted outpatients (n = 293) attending clinics were randomly assigned to receive additional problem-solving counseling, phone call support, or neither. Psychosocial adjustment to illness, utilization, and expenditures of health services were the main outcomes measured. There were no overall significant differences between groups in their change in psychosocial adjustment and expenditures for health and social care. However, interaction analyses (P < 0.05) gave an indication of who might benefit from these interventions. Those who lived alone and infrequently used problem-solving behaviors to cope with their illness significantly improved their adjustment to illness and had fewer health service expenditures if they received problem-solving counseling. Supportive telephone calls were most effective for those who lived with someone and frequently used problem-solving coping behaviors. These findings suggest that health promotion services should be targeted to outpatients described by specific social support and coping characteristics.

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