Research Article

Lifestyle assessment: just asking makes a difference.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985; 290 doi: (Published 19 January 1985) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1985;290:214
  1. H A Skinner,
  2. B A Allen,
  3. M C McIntosh,
  4. W H Palmer


    A 10 minute assessment of 180 family practice patients showed that 11% indicated a problem with drinking alcohol, 20% with cigarette smoking, 36% with consumption of coffee or tea, and 3% with non-medical drug use, while 11% wanted to discuss their use of medications. Moreover, being asked questions resulted in a twofold or threefold increase in the patients' intentions of discussing such a problem with their doctor. Although there was good overall agreement in recognising a problem between the patient and doctor, in roughly 40% of instances where the patient indicated a problem the doctor was unaware of it. These patients tended to be young, well educated, and employed in professional occupations, and were on their first visit to the doctor. Such brief assessments of lifestyle should be routinely conducted in family practice for both case finding and prevention.