22 November 2012

RACGP calls for patients to take a vested interest in preventive care

The peak body for general practitioners (GPs) in Australia, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), is calling for patients to take the lead when it comes to receiving preventive healthcare.

Ranging from blood pressure monitoring, keeping up-to-date with vaccinations, screening for sexually transmitted diseases or seeking dietary advice; patients are best in tune with their bodies and should regularly consult their GP for preventive healthcare advice.

Dr Liz Marles, RACGP President, said just as GPs have a responsibility to provide patients with preventive health measures, it is just as vital that patients also embrace the importance of preventive care and personally take on the ‘prevention is better than cure’ mantra.

“It is estimated that 80 per cent of premature heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes and 40 per cent of cancer could be prevented through interventions that lead to healthy diet, regular physical activity, and avoidance of tobacco products,¹” Dr Marles said.

“Preventive health measures undertaken throughout a patients’ life play a significant role in reducing hospital admissions, the occurrence of medical complications and the onset of acute and chronic disease.

“Often perceptions such as lack of time, or not having any ‘obvious’ symptoms hold people back from making an appointment with their GP. However, regular appointments could result in an early diagnosis, or better still, prevention of something more serious,” Dr Marles said.

Australian general practitioners (GPs) are on the frontline of healthcare and are well equipped to deliver preventive healthcare to all Australians. Recently the RACGP released its latest Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice, commonly referred to as the College’s ‘Red Book’. This resource provides GPs with the highest evidence-based standards on preventative care available.

Complementing the Red Book, the College and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation has developed the National Guide to a preventive health assessment for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (2nd edition), referred to as the National Guide. This practical resource is intended for all GPs and health professionals delivering primary care to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Designed to assist GPs in deciphering and filtering available evidence in a way that helps guide their clinical practice, the Red Book and National Guide are now widely accepted as the main guides to the provision of preventive care in Australian General Practice.

“Over 342,0002 people visit a GP on any given day in Australia presenting a huge number of opportunities to discuss preventive health care. If you’re unsure which preventive health measures may apply to you, it’s always worth touching base with your GP to find out your health needs at any age,” Dr Marles concluded.

¹ World Health Organisation. Preventing chronic diseases. A vital investment. WHO; 2005 [cited 2012 June]; Available from: www.who.int/chp/chronic_disease_report/full_report.pdf.

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