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Research Article

Lifestyle advice in general practice: rates recalled by patients.

BMJ 1992; 305 doi: (Published 10 October 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;305:871
  1. C. Silagy,
  2. J. Muir,
  3. A. Coulter,
  4. M. Thorogood,
  5. P. Yudkin,
  6. L. Roe
  1. University Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford.


    OBJECTIVE--To document how often patients with varying cardiovascular risk levels reported receiving lifestyle advice from general practice. DESIGN--Cross sectional descriptive survey by postal questionnaire. SETTING--5 general practices in Bedfordshire. SUBJECTS--4941 people aged 35-64 years who had consulted a general practitioner at least once during the 12 months before completing the questionnaire and who subsequently attended for a health check as part of the OXCHECK trial. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Report of having received advice from a general practitioner or practice nurse about smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise, or diet during the 12 months before completing the questionnaire. Cardiovascular risk assessed by a nurse during structured health check. RESULTS--The overall reported rate of advice was 27% for smoking, 4.5% for exercise, 12% for diet, and 3% for alcohol consumption. Those with unhealthy behaviour profile or at increased cardiovascular risk received more advice--for example, 47% of smokers with a history of cardiovascular disease received advice on smoking. Among those at increased risk, men were more likely than women to receive advice about exercise (11% v 4%, p = 0.04) and alcohol consumption (10% v 4%, p = 0.007), while women received more advice about weight (17% v 23%, p < 0.001). The rate of receiving advice was unaffected by age, marital status, or social class. CONCLUSION--The low rate of lifestyle advice reported by patients implies that more preventive advice could be provided in primary care.