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Putting prevention into practice (Green Book)

Patient surveys

Patient surveys and discussing prevention with the patient will help determine current performance and monitor progress.170 Feedback can be used to adjust an intervention or determine priority areas. A patient prevention survey administered in the waiting room has a number of advantages:

  • it helps identify groups at risk who may need a prevention activity
  • completing the survey in the waiting room helps to distract the patient from thinking about the waiting time
  • it primes the patient to think about their health habits
  • it increases the likelihood that a range of health habits are discussed with the GP or PN it is both feasible to do and acceptable to patients.
  • Many practices use a simple patient prevention survey to gather appropriate information from patients (see Appendix 4).

A patient prevention survey in ‘practice’

As a way of providing the GP with information that the patient had documented, the RACGP Patient Prevention Survey was adapted for all patients who attended the practice to complete. A separate questionnaire for children was also developed, but later withdrawn due to resourcing issues. Once completed, all information was put onto the clinical software by reception staff. Practice staff have long had a process whereby they stamp on the case notes that the patient has filled in a questionnaire. Staff then ask any patients presenting who have no ‘stamp’ to complete a questionnaire. Over time, the questionnaire had evolved from a general source of information for the GP to more specific issues requiring recall and follow up.

Elaine Green, Leschenault Medical Centre, Australind, Western Australia

Before you implement a patient prevention survey

  • Have a clear statement of purpose and identify your survey target group
  • Decide who will manage the survey process (eg. how will it be administered? How many people will be surveyed? How to manage patient expectations and questions from the survey?)
  • Decide who will collate responses and how this will be done
  • Decide how the information will be used and for what purpose
  • Decide what assistance, if any, can be given to patients to complete the survey. You should consider literacy, dexterity, language barriers and privacy.

The survey should be given to every patient and updated every 2 years. To organise and review all the surveys is a massive task, so identify the priorities and focus on one issue at a time. Information from surveys can be incorporated into a patient register and/or patient health summaries. This activity will help toward meeting accreditation requirements of having a completed HSS on regularly attending patients.

To ensure that there is adequate time to address any issues arising from the patient survey, ensure you indicate to the patient that a separate appointment will be needed to address their responses.

Managing the survey process – tasks and roles


Whose role?


Establish the survey protocol (to whom, when, explanations)



Distribute survey, answer patient questions



Transfer the information to both patient files and your patient register



Identify a process coordinator/prevention facilitator



Review and revise patient survey questionnaires based on feedback from patients