Attitudes, norms and controls influencing lifestyle risk factor management in general practice

Ampt, Amanda J., Amoroso, Cheryl, Harris, Mark F., McKenzie, Suzanne H., Rose, Vanessa K., and Taggart, Jane R. (2009) Attitudes, norms and controls influencing lifestyle risk factor management in general practice. BMC Family Practice, 10. 59. pp. 1-8.

PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (262kB)
View at Publisher Website:


Background: With increasing rates of chronic disease associated with lifestyle behavioural risk factors, there is urgent need for intervention strategies in primary health care. Currently there is a gap in the knowledge of factors that influence the delivery of preventive strategies by General Practitioners (GPs) around interventions for smoking, nutrition, alcohol consumption and physical activity (SNAP). This qualitative study explores the delivery of lifestyle behavioural risk factor screening and management by GPs within a 45-49 year old health check consultation. The aims of this research are to identify the influences affecting GPs' choosing to screen and choosing to manage SNAP lifestyle risk factors, as well as identify influences on screening and management when multiple SNAP factors exist.

Methods: A total of 29 audio-taped interviews were conducted with 15 GPs and one practice nurse over two stages. Transcripts from the interviews were thematically analysed, and a model of influencing factors on preventive care behaviour was developed using the Theory of Planned Behaviour as a structural framework.

Results: GPs felt that assessing smoking status was straightforward, however some found assessing alcohol intake only possible during a formal health check. Diet and physical activity were often inferred from appearance, only being assessed if the patient was overweight. The frequency and thoroughness of assessment were influenced by the GPs' personal interests and perceived congruence with their role, the level of risk to the patient, the capacity of the practice and availability of time. All GPs considered advising and educating patients part of their professional responsibility. However their attempts to motivate patients were influenced by perceptions of their own effectiveness, with smoking causing the most frustration. Active follow-up and referral of patients appeared to depend on the GPs' orientation to preventive care, the patient's motivation, and cost and accessibility of services to patients.

Conclusion: General practitioner attitudes, normative influences from both patients and the profession, and perceived external control factors (time, cost, availability and practice capacity) all influence management of behavioural risk factors. Provider education, community awareness raising, support and capacity building may improve the uptake of lifestyle modification interventions.

Item ID: 18045
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2296
Additional Information:

© 2009 Ampt et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Funders: University of New South Wales, Australia, Faculty of Medicine Research Grant, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing under the Primary Care Research, Evaluation and Development Strategy
Date Deposited: 18 Aug 2011 04:15
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111717 Primary Health Care @ 50%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111716 Preventive Medicine @ 50%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920412 Preventive Medicine @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 50%
Downloads: Total: 1110
Last 12 Months: 74
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page