Lifestyle counselling in primary health care for patients with high cardiovascular risk : Aspects of a 1-year structured lifestyle programme promoting healthier lifestyle habits to reduce future risk of cardiovascular disease

Sammanfattning: While the effects of lifestyle habits on hypertension or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) are well established, few lifestyle programmes in primary care directed towards patients with high cardiovascular risk have been evaluated.Aims To describe and elaborate on how participation in a 1-year lifestyle programme supported changes in lifestyle habits and altered the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) as well as explore patients’ and community health nurses’ (CHNs’) experiences of lifestyle change and counselling.Methods The 1-year lifestyle programme consisted of five appointments with a CHN for patients diagnosed with hypertension, T2DM or impaired glucose tolerance (n = 448). Focuse was on lifestyle habits that were related to patients’ diagnosis. Different behaviour change techniques were used to support lifestyle changes. Blood sampling and anthropometrical measurements were obtained at baseline and 1-year follow-up. The design of Studies I and II was observational and based on data that were consecutively collected between 2009 and 2014, whereas Studies III and IV had a qualitative design. Qualitative content analyses were performed based on data from individual interviews with patients (n = 16) and a focus group interview of CHNs (n = 3).Results Study I: Favourable changes in physical activity, dietary habits and smoking were detected after participation in the programme. Study II: Significant improvements were demonstrated for all cardiovascular risk factors and the estimated 10-year CVD risk after participation in the programme. Study III: Patients’ experiences of lifestyle changes indicated that increased knowledge of lifestyle habits, gaining trust in oneself and support from others were important elements in the adoption of lifestyle changes. Study IV: The informants expressed that counselling should be based on a partnership, include goal setting and repeated measurements, and incorporate long-term support after the completion of the lifestyle programme.Conclusion This thesis adds to the knowledge on how lifestyle counselling can be designed and implemented in primary care. The findings show that patients with a new diagnosis of hypertension or T2DM are at high risk for future CVD and a structured lifestyle programme can contribute to improved lifestyle habits and a reduced 10-year CVD risk.