November 2011


Lifestyle intervention

A study on maintenance in general practice

Volume 40, No.11, November 2011 Pages 903-906

Roshan Dhanapalaratnam

Mahnaz Fanaian

Mark F Harris


This article aims to explore the factors contributing to sustained or nonsustained behaviour change following a lifestyle intervention in general practice.


Twenty patients who had participated in a general practice health check and group lifestyle support program were interviewed by telephone after 12 months. The interviews were transcribed and analysed thematically.


Patients reported positive effects of the intervention on their behaviour change, especially the group peer support. However, their maintenance of these changes varied. Factors that contributed to sustained behaviour change included social support and self efficacy. Factors contributing to relapse included competing demands on time, comorbidity and stress.


Greater attention needs to be given to maintenance of behaviour change in lifestyle management programs. Following completion of the program, there needs to be greater support for relapse prevention and management and effective integration back into general practice.

Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes are a major contributor to the burden of disease in Australia.1 Primary prevention of these conditions requires management of a number of physiological and behavioural risk factors which are common in patients presenting to general practice.2 Although factors such as smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity (SNAP) need be addressed by policies and programs outside the health system, there are a number of effective interventions that health providers can offer.3-5 While there are frequent opportunities to intervene in general practice, there is evidence that this is not routinely part of current practice.6-8 This is due to a range of factors including lack of time and skill and the capacity to provide interventions of sufficient intensity to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes.9,10

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