Cardiovascular disease predominates as the leading health burden among middle-aged and older American adults, but progress in improving cardiovascular health remains slow. Comprehensive, evidenced-based behavioral counseling interventions in primary care are a recommended first-line approach for promoting healthy behaviors and preventing poor cardiovascular disease outcomes in adults with cardiovascular risk factors. Assisting patients to adopt and achieve their health promotion goals and arranging follow-up support are critical tenets of the 5A Model for behavior counseling in primary care. These 2 steps in behavior counseling are considered essential to effectively promote meaningful and lasting behavior change for primary cardiovascular disease prevention. However, adoption and implementation of behavioral counseling interventions in clinical settings can be challenging. The purpose of this scientific statement from the American Heart Association is to guide primary health care professional efforts to offer or refer patients for behavioral counseling, beyond what can be done during brief and infrequent office visits. This scientific statement presents evidence of effective behavioral intervention programs that are feasible for adoption in primary care settings for cardiovascular disease prevention and risk management in middle-aged and older adults. Furthermore, examples are provided of resources available to facilitate the widespread adoption and implementation of behavioral intervention programs in primary care or community-based settings and practical approaches to appropriately engage and refer patients to these programs. In addition, current national models that influence translation of evidence-based behavioral counseling in primary care and community settings are described. Finally, this scientific statement highlights opportunities to enhance the delivery of equitable and preventive care that prioritizes effective behavioral counseling of patients with varying levels of cardiovascular disease risk.
Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; counseling; health behavior; primary health care; risk management.