Advice for General Practitioners in Using Behavior Change Interventions

Integration of proven behavioral strategies into health care practices

The Center for the Advancement of Health, a Washington-based nonprofit devoted to translating health research into effective policy and practice, conducted a study in 2000 on the current state of practice among physicians in intervening with patients using proven health behavior change strategies.

Their report, Integration of Health Behavior Counseling in Routine Medical Care, provided information for RWJF staff working in the area of health and behavior. It included recommendations for facilitating the integration of behavior counseling (e.g., counseling patients to stop smoking, change their diet and start exercising) into routine medical care.

Key Findings

Key findings of the study, Integration of Health Behavior Counseling in Routine Medical Care, include:

  • Providers disagreed about the use of guidelines for behavior change interventions.
  • There was consensus among providers that the practical value of guidelines is limited because it is often not clear how to evaluate or prioritize them.
  • It is difficult for physicians to get information about effective interventions that they can actually use in their practices.
  • Barriers to implementing interventions include clinicians' lack of time with patients, skepticism about effectiveness and lack of reimbursement for such services.
  • There is no system for translating medical research into routine medical care.