Open Access Research article

Factors influencing participation in a vascular disease prevention lifestyle program among participants in a cluster randomized trial

Rachel A Laws1*, Mahnaz Fanaian2, Upali W Jayasinghe2, Suzanne McKenzie23, Megan Passey4, Gawaine Powell Davies2, David Lyle5 and Mark F Harris2

Author affiliations

1 Prevention Research Collaboration, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

2 Centre for Primary Health Care and Equity, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2060, Australia

3 School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD 4811, Australia

4 University Centre for Rural Health- North Coast, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

5 Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia

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Citation and License

BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:201  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-201

Published: 31 May 2013

Abstract

Background

Previous research suggests that lifestyle intervention for the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD) are effective, however little is known about factors affecting participation in such programs. This study aims to explore factors influencing levels of participation in a lifestyle modification program conducted as part of a cluster randomized controlled trial of CVD prevention in primary care.

Methods

This concurrent mixed methods study used data from the intervention arm of a cluster RCT which recruited 30 practices through two rural and three urban primary care organizations. Practices were randomly allocated to intervention (n = 16) and control (n = 14) groups. In each practice up to 160 eligible patients aged between 40 and 64 years old, were invited to participate. Intervention practice staff were trained in lifestyle assessment and counseling and referred high risk patients to a lifestyle modification program (LMP) consisting of two individual and six group sessions over a nine month period. Data included a patient survey, clinical audit, practice survey on capacity for preventive care, referral and attendance records at the LMP and qualitative interviews with Intervention Officers facilitating the LMP. Multi-level logistic regression modelling was used to examine independent predictors of attendance at the LMP, supplemented with qualitative data from interviews with Intervention Officers facilitating the program.

Results

A total of 197 individuals were referred to the LMP (63% of those eligible). Over a third of patients (36.5%) referred to the LMP did not attend any sessions, with 59.4% attending at least half of the planned sessions. The only independent predictors of attendance at the program were employment status - not working (OR: 2.39 95% CI 1.15-4.94) and having high psychological distress (OR: 2.17 95% CI: 1.10-4.30). Qualitative data revealed that physical access to the program was a barrier, while GP/practice endorsement of the program and flexibility in program delivery facilitated attendance.

Conclusion

Barriers to attendance at a LMP for CVD prevention related mainly to external factors including work commitments and poor physical access to the programs rather than an individuals’ health risk profile or readiness to change. Improving physical access and offering flexibility in program delivery may enhance future attendance. Finally, associations between psychological distress and attendance rates warrant further investigation.

Trial registration

ACTRN12607000423415

Keywords:
Preventive health care; Lifestyle modification; Attendance rates; Reach; Primary care; Family practice; Chronic disease prevention