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BMC Fam Pract. 2005 Aug 19;6:35.

A randomized trial of mail vs. telephone invitation to a community-based cardiovascular health awareness program for older family practice patients [ISRCTN61739603].

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Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.



Family physicians can play an important role in encouraging patients to participate in community-based health promotion initiatives designed to supplement and enhance their in-office care. Our objectives were to determine effective approaches to invite older family practice patients to attend cardiovascular health awareness sessions in community pharmacies, and to assess the feasibility and acceptability of a program incorporating invitation by physicians and feedback to physicians.


We conducted a prospective randomized trial with 1 family physician practice and 5 community pharmacies in Dundas, Ontario. Regular patients 65 years or older (n = 235) were randomly allocated to invitation by mail or telephone to attend pharmacy cardiovascular health awareness sessions led by volunteer peer health educators. A health record review captured blood pressure status, monitoring and control. At the sessions, volunteers helped patients to measure blood pressure using in-store machines and a validated portable device (BPM-100), and recorded blood pressure readings and self-reported cardiovascular risk factors. We compared attendance rates in the mail and telephone invitation groups and explored factors potentially associated with attendance.


The 119 patients invited by mail and 116 patients contacted by telephone had a mean age of 75.7 (SD, 6.4) years and 46.8% were male. Overall, 58.3% (137/235) of invitees attended a pharmacy cardiovascular health awareness session. Patients invited by telephone were more likely to attend than those invited by mail (72.3% vs. 44.0%, OR 3.3; 95%CI 1.9-5.7; p < 0.001).


While the attendance in response to a telephone invitation was higher, response to a single letter was substantial. Attendance rates indicated considerable interest in community-based cardiovascular health promotion activities. A large-scale trial of a pharmacy cardiovascular health awareness program for older primary care patients is feasible.

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