American Journal of Preventive Medicine highlights importance of changing multiple risk behaviors in primary care

Turning theory into improved clinical practice a focus for Primary Care Week.

Turning theory into improved clinical practice a focus for Primary Care Week

Philadelphia, 22 October 2004 – Directly relevant to “Improving Your Understanding of Primary Care,” one component of the 2004 observance of Primary Care Week (October 17-23) in the United States, a group of researchers has recently devised a hypothetical approach to working with multiple patient risk behaviors which can strengthen disease prevention and management. The study, in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published by Elsevier, was undertaken as part of the research team’s attempt to assemble a body of practical information from the volume of theoretical literature available on behavior change and then apply it to the discipline of primary care. 

In their article, “Translating What We Have Learned into Practice: Principles and Hypotheses for Interventions Addressing Multiple Behaviors in Primary Care”, researchers Russell R. Glasgow, Michael G. Goldstein, Judith K Ockene, and Nicolaas P. Pronk proposed a sequence of behavior principles and related support activities to both help patients change various detrimental health behaviors and guide clinicians in facilitating these necessary behavior changes.

Using four health and lifestyle behaviors that place patients at the highest risk for developing disease, (smoking, poor diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption), they outlined a series of steps, dubbed the 5A’s (assess, advise, agree, assist, and arrange), as a roadmap for primary care providers who need to help patients, especially those with complex circumstances and in need of longer term follow-up, change their high-risk health habits.

“This study addresses a very important issue facing primary care today,” declared Kevin Patrick, Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. “With the many pressures facing primary care practitioners these days, simple yet effective strategies to incorporate health behavior change counseling into practice should be most useful.”

The research team concluded that “those…[practices]…that implement procedures to ensure that patients receive consistent messages about behavior change goals…will produce better results than those that do not….the key is to address these issues …and not to give up and revert back to the “standard operating procedures” prematurely.”

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About the American Journal of Preventive Medicine

The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the official journal of The American College of Preventive Medicine and The Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine, is a peer reviewed journal published ten times a year. It publishes articles in the areas of prevention research, teaching, practice and policy and can be accessed at or through ScienceDirect®.

About Elsevier
Elsevier is a world-leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals, empowering them to make better decisions, deliver better care, and sometimes make groundbreaking discoveries that advance the boundaries of knowledge and human progress. Elsevier provides web-based, digital solutions — among them ScienceDirect, Scopus, Research Intelligence and ClinicalKey— and publishes over 2,500 journals, including The Lancet and Cell, and more than 35,000 book titles, including a number of iconic reference works. Elsevier is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries.

Karlyn Messinger

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