Primary Care Culture Affects Prevention of High-Risk Health Behaviors

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Strategies designed to help primary care providers treat chronic diseases are also useful for targeting health risk behaviors such as smoking, alcohol abuse, poor diet and physical inactivity, according to a new study.

Medical practices with a flexible organizational culture and openness to new ideas are more likely to offer risk assessments, counseling and referral to community-based programs. However, the study also found that implementation of these approaches is rare across the country.

"Opportunities to address patients' health behaviors in strategic settings such as primary care practices often are missed," say study authors led by Dorothy Hung, Ph.D., of Columbia University.

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The four behaviors included in the study are the nation's leading causes of death and disability, and the interventions are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. The review appears in the latest issue of The Milbank Quarterly.

Hung and colleagues focused on the Chronic Care Model (CCM), which was developed with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which also provided funding and study data.

The study included 52 primary care practices, where staff completed cross-sectional surveys focusing on various elements of the CCM.

In particular, the study found that primary care practices are more likely to offer recommended preventive services if they:

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