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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