Background: Lifestyle behaviors such as reducing weight if overweight or obese, reducing salt intake, exercising, reducing alcohol intake, quitting smoking, and eating a healthy diet are related to the prevention and control of chronic diseases. However the amount of lifestyle advice provided by clinicians has been declining over the last decade.
Methods: In 2002, a telephone survey was conducted to assess the quality of preventive care offered by health care providers. The study was a cross-sectional observational study of a randomly selected sample of 516 diverse individuals in Durham County, North Carolina. Information regarding age, sex, race, education, health conditions, and self-reported receipt of lifestyle advice was examined in the study.
Results: The odds of receiving advice to engage in preventive lifestyle behaviors were significantly higher for those with a pre-existing diagnosis of diabetes or hypertension and for participants reporting poor health status. For example, the odds of receiving advice to control or lose weight was 8.32 (95% CI, 2.65, 26.75) among individuals reporting a diagnosis of diabetes. Similarly, the odds of reporting "receiving advice to reduce salt intake" was 6.97 (95% CI, 3.74, 13.00) among subjects reporting a diagnosis of hypertension.
Limitations: The results are from a cross-sectional study of a sample of individuals in only one county. Additionally, the results are based on patient self-reported information, which could be subject to recall and social desirability bias.
Conclusion: Patients with identified health problems were more likely than others to report being advised to adopt healthy lifestyle recommendations. Future research should examine methods to encourage health care providers to offer lifestyle advice to those without pre-existing illness.