Objectives: When epidemiologic data on cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality rates in different Swedish regions were published in the early 1980s, there was great concern about the high CVD incidence in the northernmost counties of Sweden, namely Västerbotten and Norrbotten. This paper describe the development of a Northern Sweden community intervention programme for the prevention of CVD.
Methods: As there were no Swedish prototypes, the programme was designed by drawing on experiences from other community interventions. One unique emphasis of the Norsjö intervention programme was to combine a population strategy with efforts to contact each person individually when they became 30, 40, 50, and 60 years of age (the primary care approach). Using the primary care system as part of the community intervention, systematic risk factor screening and counselling by family medicine providers were carried out at the same time as the community intervention programme invoked other efforts to raise public awareness.
Results: During the first 10 years of the programme >90% of those invited participated in the individual health screening and counselling. A new food labelling system was introduced in the grocery stores, which after a few years became the official Swedish food labelling system. Sales statistics regarding dairy products showed a significant turnover of low fat products. According to public opinion, the health screening and counselling were reported to be the most influential factors supporting lifestyle changes.
Conclusions: It was possible in Norsjö to create a local health promotion collaboration between healthcare providers, grocery stores, schools, municipal authorities, and the public in order to develop a Swedish model for community intervention. The different programme components were well received by the public.