Primary Care Counseling Techniques May Not be Helpful in Preventing Risky Health Behaviors

Defining common core elements of effective primary care health behavior change counseling

From 2001 to 2003, researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research conducted a comprehensive review of published trials to identify common core elements of counseling in primary care settings that are effective across behaviors for physical activity, diet and risky drinking.

The effort was part of the Evidence-Based Practice Program, sponsored by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, to provide recommendations for clinical preventive services in the primary care setting.

Key Findings

  • The principal investigator concluded that "current evidence does not support a clear role for primary prevention [i.e., reducing the risk of developing disease] in primary care clinical settings.

    Rather, a role in secondary prevention [i.e., helping high-risk individuals — those with established disease — to avoid further deterioration] seems clearly appropriate from our results, particularly for diet."

Funding

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) supported the project with a grant of $320,111 to Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Kaiser Foundation Research Institute, the fiscal intermediary for the project.