9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN16 Sociology of Health and Illness

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Formal and Informal Health Care Organisation and Health Care Delivery in Europe II Building I, 1E4

The mutual expectations of GPs and their patients in lifestyle counselling: results of focus group discussions in the context of the Austrian Periodic Health Examination

Background
Since 2005 the program of the Austrian Periodic Health Examination (PHE) has reinforced the role of physicians in lifestyle counselling. In addition to routine clinical examinations, physicians intervene in modifying lifestyle behaviours like alcohol consumption, smoking, exercise or nutrition.

Aims
The responsibility for individual health care has shifted from a physician-oriented approach to a patient-centred one. We focused on general practitioners? role perceptions as ?lifestyle mentors? and on perceived implementation difficulties. We were particularly interested in perspectives on effectiveness and self-efficacy of physician lifestyle interventions.

Methods
Focus group interviews were carried out with five discussion groups of general practitioners. The qualitative method obtained in-depth information on the topics mentioned above. Two facilitators made a group of about 5 members discuss the topics. The collected data were audio-taped, transcribed and analysed by means of MAXqda.

Results
GPs view lifestyle advice and communication with their patients as essential. Their attitude towards the effectiveness of lifestyle intervention is rather realistic, though. They are aware of the multi-factorial nature of illness. Their patients rarely change their unhealthy habits. On the other hand, patients expect too much of PHE as an "all-inclusive"-health check-up. Doctors rate conditions for lifestyle counselling not particularly favourable.

Conclusion
GPs perceive themselves as lifestyle counsellors differentiating themselves from their colleagues in other medical disciplines and from commercial lifestyle counsellors. They have to cope with a variety of problems and conflicts in PHE implementation. They do not succeed in a substantial lifestyle-modification of their patients.