The primary behavioural risks for the most common causes of mortality and morbidity in developed countries are tobacco smoking, poor nutrition, risky alcohol use, and physical inactivity. Evidence, guidelines and policies support routine clinician delivery of care to prevent these risks within primary care settings. Despite the potential afforded by community health services for the delivery of such preventive care, the limited evidence available suggests it is provided at suboptimal levels. This study aims to assess the effectiveness of a multi-strategic practice change intervention in increasing clinician's routine provision of preventive care across a network of community health services.
A multiple baseline study will be conducted involving all 56 community health facilities in a single health district in New South Wales, Australia. The facilities will be allocated to one of three administratively-defined groups. A 12 month practice change intervention will be implemented in all facilities in each group to facilitate clinician risk assessment of eligible clients, and clinician provision of brief advice and referral to those identified as being 'at risk'. The intervention will be implemented in a non-random sequence across the three facility groups. Repeated, cross-sectional measurement of clinician provision of preventive care for four individual risks (smoking, poor nutrition, risky alcohol use, and physical inactivity) will occur continuously for all three facility groups for 54 months via telephone interviews. The interviews will be conducted with randomly selected clients who have visited a community health facility in the last two weeks. Data collection will commence 12 months prior to the implementation of the intervention in the first group, and continue for six months following the completion of the intervention in the last group. As a secondary source of data, telephone interviews will be undertaken prior to and following the intervention with randomly selected samples of clinicians from each facility group to assess the reported provision of preventive care, and the acceptability of the practice change intervention and implementation.
The study will provide novel evidence regarding the ability to increase clinician's routine provision of preventive care across a network of community health facilities.
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