Prevention in general practice: the views of doctors in the Oxford region.
Coulter A., Schofield T.
A postal questionnaire was sent to all 1291 general practitioners in the Oxford region to determine the pattern of preventive care and their beliefs about its effectiveness. Replies were received from 1014 doctors (79%). Doctors' attitudes to their role in prevention and health promotion were very positive and a large majority claimed to discuss health related topics with their patients when indicated. Fewer respondents said they made a point of discussing smoking habits (64%), alcohol intake (26%), diet (12%), or exercise (11%) as a matter of routine with all their adult patients. Most general practitioners said they usually offered simple advice, leaflets, or other aids when they had identified a problem, but few said they would refer these patients to the practice nurse. With the exception of cervical screening (45%), few respondents said they maintained statistics on the distribution of risk factors in their practice population. Despite considerable enthusiasm for their role in preventive health care, before the imposition of the new contact most general practitioners in the Oxford region had not yet embraced the model of prevention which the contract aims to encourage: systematic screening for risk factors and lifestyle advice for all patients.