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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Preventive care in general practice among healthy older New South Wales residents

Mark F Harris1*, Fakhrul Md Islam1, Bin Jalaludin2, Jack Chen3, Adrian E Bauman4 and Elizabeth J Comino1

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

2 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

3 The Simpson Centre for Health Services Research, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

4 School of Public Health, Sydney University, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:83  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-83

Published: 16 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Despite being at high risk, disadvantaged patients may be less likely to receive preventive care in general practice. This study aimed to explore self-reported preventive care received from general practitioners and the factors associated with this by healthy New South Wales (NSW) residents aged 45–74 years.

Methods

A self-completed questionnaire was sent to 100,000 NSW residents in the 45 and Up cohort study. There was a 60% response rate. After exclusions there were 39,964 participants aged 45–74 years who did not report cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Dichotomised outcome variables were participant report of having had a clinical assessment of their blood pressure (BP), blood cholesterol (BC) or blood glucose (BG), or received advice to eat less high fat food, eat more fruit and vegetables or be more physically active from their GP in the last 12 months. Independent variables included socio-demographic, lifestyle risk factors, health status, access to health care and confidence in self-management.

Results

Most respondents reported having had their BP (90.6%), BC (73.9%) or BG (69.4%) assessed. Fewer reported being given health advice to (a)eat less high fat food (26.6%), (b) eat more fruit and vegetables (15.5%) or (c) do more physical activity (19.9%). The patterns of association were consistent with recognised need: participants who were older, less well educated or overweight were more likely to report clinical assessments; participants who were overseas born, of lower educational attainment, less confident in their own self-management, reported insufficient physical activity or were overweight were more likely to report receiving advice. However current smokers were less likely to report clinical assessments; and rural and older participants were less likely to receive diet or physical activity advice.

Conclusions

This study demonstrated a gap between reported clinical assessments and preventive advice. There was evidence for inverse care for rural participants and smokers, who despite being at higher risk of health problems, were less likely to report receiving preventive care. This suggests the need for greater effort to promote preventive care for these groups in Australian general practice.