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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Health promotion services for lifestyle development within a UK hospital – Patients' experiences and views

Charlotte L Haynes

Author Affiliations

Clinical Effectiveness Unit, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, Cheshire, UK

BMC Public Health 2008, 8:284  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-8-284

Published: 13 August 2008



UK public health policy requires hospitals to have in place health promotion services which enable patients to improve their health through adopting healthy behaviours, i.e. health education. This study investigated hospitalised patients' experiences of health education for smoking, alcohol use, diet, physical activity, and weight, and their views concerning the appropriateness of hospitals as a setting for the delivery of health education services.


Recently discharged adult hospital patients (n = 322) were sent a questionnaire asking about their smoking, alcohol use, diet, physical activity, and weight. For each of these risk factors, participants were asked whether they agreed with screening for the risk factor, whether they received health education, whether it was "helpful", and if they wanted to change their behaviour. Participants were also asked a set of general questions concerning health education within hospitals.


190 patients responded (59%). Over 80% agreed with screening for all risk factors. 80% of smokers, 52% consuming alcohol above recommended limits, 86% of obese, 66% consuming less than five fruit and vegetables a day, and 61% of physically inactive participants wanted to change their respective behaviour. However only a third reported receiving health education. While over 60% of patients wanted health education around discharge, the majority of those receiving health education did so at admission. The majority agreed that "hospital is a good place for patients to receive" health education (87%) and that "the hospital should provide patients with details of community organisations that provide" health education (83%). Only a minority (31%) reported a preference for health education from their GP instead of hospital.


While the delivery of health education to patients within hospital was poor, hospitals are viewed by patients as an appropriate, and in some cases preferred setting for the screening of risk factors and delivery of health education.