Chronic heart failure

December 2010


Lifestyle risk factors in general practice

Routine assessment and management

Volume 39, No.12, December 2010 Pages 950-953

Elizabeth Denney-Wilson

Mahnaz Fanaian

Qing Wan

Sanjyot Vagholkar

Heike Schütze

Mark F Harris


Evidence based guidelines recommend that adults be assessed for modifiable lifestyle risk factors: smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity (SNAP) regularly. This article discusses the routine practices of GPs regarding assessment and management of these risk factors.


General practitioners participating in two randomised controlled trials completed questionnaires about their assessment and management of SNAP risk factors.


Over half of the GPs usually assessed smoking and alcohol, and assessed a patient’s readiness to change before offering advice. Diet and activity were assessed less frequently, with only 22% usually assessing diet and 28% usually assessing activity. Referral rates were low, with less than 10% of GPs reporting that they usually referred patients to programs. Less than 20% of GPs reported having difficulty referring to programs.


Chronic disease risk factors are common in the Australian population, and GPs are ideally placed to offer assessment, advice and referral to services and programs. Recent changes to Medicare rebates for prevention activity may encourage a greater focus on prevention.

Chronic disease prevention is an important priority in the Australian healthcare system.1 The Council of Australian Governments in its Plan for Better Health for All Australians2 identified the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles, including addressing smoking, nutrition, alcohol use and physical activity (SNAP).

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