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Prev Med. 1994 May;23(3):284-91.

Changing physician behavior to improve disease prevention.

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Department of Public Health Sciences, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157.


Physicians often fail to provide nationally recommended preventive services for their patients. Addressing this, we have reviewed selected literature on changing physician behavior using the organizational construct of the "readiness for change" transtheoretical model. This model suggests that behavior evolves through stages from precontemplation, to contemplation, to preparation, to initiation, and to maintenance of change. Traditional continuing medical education may affect knowledge and beliefs, but rarely results in behavior change. However, motivational strategies such as practice feedback reports and influential peers can foster stage change. Successful interventions aimed at physicians preparing for change frequently use an office-system approach that targets not only physicians, but office staff and patients as well. Illustrating how the readiness to change model can guide the design and implementation of interventions, we describe strategies being used in a statewide randomized controlled trial to improve cancer prevention counseling and early detection by primary care physicians. The multistage interventions of Partners for Prevention include support from a medical liability carrier, a motivational videotape, a task-delineated office manual, chart flowsheets, patient activation forms, practice feedback reports, a designated prevention coordinator within each practice and regular telephone calls and office visits by project staff.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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