What predicts patient-reported GP management of smoking, nutrition, alcohol, physical activity and weight?

Aust J Prim Health. 2012;18(2):123-8. doi: 10.1071/PY11024.


This study aimed to describe patient-reported management of behavioural risk factors in Australian general practice. Six hundred and ninety-eight eligible patients from 30 general practices in two rural and three urban Divisions of General Practice responded to a mailed invitation to participate and completed a questionnaire. Data were analysed using univariate and multi-level multivariate methods. The prevalence of risk factors varied between 12.6% for smoking and 72.6% for at-risk diet (56.2% were overweight). Most patients were at the action or maintenance phases of their readiness to change their risky behaviours. General practitioners (GPs) provided education or advice to between one-quarter and one-third of those at risk for each risk factor; 9.2% and 9.6% of patients reported having been referred for diet or physical activity interventions. Patient body mass index was associated with increased likelihood of receiving GP advice or referral for diet and physical activity interventions. Having poor diet or physical activity levels and being more ready for change were not associated with the likelihood of GP referral. The major challenge for general practice is to ensure that effective lifestyle interventions are provided to those who will most benefit. Patient-reported GP behavioural risk factor advice and referral is less frequent than is optimal. Priority needs to be given to those most at risk and ready to change their behaviour.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / therapy*
  • Australia
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Diet / methods
  • Female
  • General Practice / methods*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Nutritional Status
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic / methods
  • Patient Education as Topic / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Prevalence
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Smoking / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires