The use of physician counselling to promote reduction of behavioral health risks

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Recent reports indicate that the incidence of the leading causes of death in the United States (specifically, cancer and heart and cardiovascular disease) is related to health habits or lifestyle. In an attempt to promote better health habits, adult patients attending a family physician's practice were asked to complete a brief health habit questionnaire (HHQ) and then advised by their physician to seek self-help information on how to improve specific health-related habits. The dependent measure was the percentage of persons requesting self-help information from a display in the physician's office. 55.81% of persons receiving physician advice (n=43) requested information as opposed to 4.54% in a control group (n=44) which completed the HHQ but, did not receive physician advice and 4.25% (n=47) of a control group that did not complete an HHQ or receive physician advice. Follow-up interviews indicated that a majority of persons requesting self-help information read that information. Follow-up interviews also indicate that a higher percentage of persons who had requested information were currently attempting to change health habits than those who had not requested information. Furthermore, a majority of persons who had requested self-help information and were attempting to change health habits reported following one or more of the suggestions in the self-help information.