Standards for general practices

Core module

Introduction to Core Standard 4

        1. Introduction to Core Standard 4

Last revised: 24 Feb 2023

Core Standard 4

Health promotion and preventive activities

Our practice provides health promotion and preventive services that are based on patient need and best available evidence.

Health promotion is the process of enabling people to improve and increase control over their health. As well as influencing an individual’s behaviour, it also encompasses a wide range of social and environmental interventions,22 such as education programs and changes to laws and policies.

Health promotion is distinct from the education and information that practitioners use to support their diagnosis and choice of treatment.

Health professionals can deliver health promotion and reinforce it in various ways. This could include written materials, the practice’s ‘on-hold’ telephone messages, and education clinics that help people self-manage their chronic diseases.

General practices are, for most Australians, the primary entry point to healthcare and therefore have a crucial role in promoting health, preventing illness and delivering preventive care. For example, a patient can visit their practitioner to have regular check-ups, be screened for specific diseases, identify risk factors for disease, and discuss ways of achieving a healthy lifestyle.

Preventive healthcare consists of measures taken to prevent diseases (as opposed to treating them)23 and to detect them in their early and often asymptomatic stages, based on relevant current clinical and other guidelines. According to 2013 data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the leading cause of preventable deaths in Australia is coronary heart disease,24 illustrating an area in which preventive healthcare could improve patient health outcomes.

A holistic approach to care encourages a practice to consider and respond to each patient’s individual circumstances when providing health promotion, preventive care, early detection and intervention.

For example:

  • heritage (eg does the patient identify as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin?)
  • medical or social conditions (eg was the patient a refugee? Did the patient experience childhood abuse?)
  • financial circumstances (eg will they be able to afford the recommended treatment?)
  • LGBTQIA status (eg is the patient struggling with their status or adjusting to a new status?).

You can also coordinate with other health professionals and agencies to undertake health promotion and achieve preventive care objectives.