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Putting prevention into practice (Green Book)

Health priority areas

Identifying partners who have a shared interest in finding ways to improve health outcomes are to be encouraged. There are eight Australian Government Health Priority Areas:

  1. Asthma
  2. Diabetes
  3. Cardiovascular health
  4. Cancer
  5. Mental health including depression
  6. Injury prevention and
  7. Arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions
  8. Dementia.

There are a range of national public health programs such as cervical and breast screening, and immunisation that are very effective. Other national initiatives include the ‘SNAP’ priority risk behaviours of smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity.

Health gains have not been shared equally across all sections of the population. Inequality in health care is more common among Indigenous Australians, people of lower socioeconomic status, people living in rural and remote areas, people with disabilities, and refugees and asylum seekers.

While the causes of health inequalities are complex, the cost of health care can have a major impact through reduced access to health services, preventive health care and adherence with treatment.

Divisions of general practice, community organisations and local groups may have identified particular target population groups, and be willing to work with GPs to improve the health needs of these groups. It is likely that your target groups will match some of theirs.

Domestic violence

A mother of three initially presents to the practice with uncontrollable migraines. Over the next 12 months it becomes apparent that there is a very difficult situation at home with her husband (an excessive drinker) and ongoing physical, emotional and financial abuse. How could the GP and the practice respond to this situation?

  • See the victim individually for safety and allow the victim a safe place to talk
  • Support the victim to understand what is happening and that she is not to blame for the violence
  • Be aware that domestic violence will have an effect on the children and aim to minimise this
  • Planning how to manage contact with the husband if he presents for medical care
  • Maintain absolute confidentiality about the content of the consultations
  • Provide regular contact and empathic nonjudgmental support for the victim
  • Involve all staff in training in domestic violence
  • Display posters and pamphlets in the patient waiting area
  • Involve community services where appropriate

Elizabeth Hindmarsh, Sydney, New South Wales