Background: A randomized study was conducted to test the feasibility of cholesterol lowering in physician office practices using the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel 1 guidelines.
Methods: Twenty-two physician practices in phase 1 and 23 in phase 2 were recruited from communities in Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. These physicians treated a total of 450 adults in phase 1 (190 men and 260 women) and 480 adults in phase 2 (184 men and 296 women) with hypercholesterolemia. Three models (Usual Care [phase 1], Office Assisted [phase 2], and Nutrition Center [phase 2]) for implementing the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel 1 guidelines were tested over an 18-month period. The baseline serum cholesterol levels were as follows: 6.51 mmol/L (252 mg/dL) in the Usual Care Model; 6.80 mmol/L (262 mg/dL) in the Office Assisted Model; and 6.96 mmol/L (269 mg/dL) in the Nutrition Center Model.
Results: In the patients who were not taking lipid-lowering medication, the mean cholesterol response was significantly different between the 3 models (P < .01). Serum cholesterol levels declined by 0.14 mmol/L (5.4 mg/dL) in the Usual Care Model; by 0.31 mmol/L (12 mg/dL) in the Office Assisted Model; and by 0.54 mmol/L (20.9 mg/dL) in the Nutrition Center Model. Two factors-length of time to follow-up measurement and change in weight-were independently related to cholesterol response across all models. African Americans demonstrated a significantly smaller response than whites in the Usual Care Model, while men demonstrated greater declines in serum cholesterol levels than women in the Office Assisted Model. Patient satisfaction was very favorable in both enhanced conditions; however, those treated in the the Nutrition Center Model were more satisfied (P < .05) with program components.
Conclusions: The impact of nutrition intervention delivered through physician practices on serum cholesterol levels is less than clinically desirable, and new approaches with more aggressive therapy should be tested and implemented.