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Health promotion and disease prevention in general practice and primary care: a scoping study

  • Stephen Peckham (a1) (a2), Alison Hann (a3), Sally Kendall (a4) and Steve Gillam (a5) (a6)

This paper reports the findings of a scoping review on the organisation and delivery of health improvement activities in general practice and the primary healthcare team. The project was designed to examine who delivers these interventions, where they are located, what approaches are developed in practices and how individual practices and the primary healthcare team organise such public health activities and how these contribute to health improvement. Our focus was on health promotion and prevention activities and aimed to identify the current extent of knowledge about the health improvement activities in general practice and the wider primary healthcare team. Many of the research studies reviewed had some details about the type, process, location or who provided the intervention. Little attention is paid in the literature to examining the impact of the organisational context on the way services are delivered or how this affects the effectiveness of health improvement interventions in general practice. We found that the focus of attention is mainly on individual prevention approaches with practices engaging in both primary and secondary prevention. Although many GPs do not take a population approach and focus on individual patients some do see health promotion as an integral part of practice – whether as individual approaches to primary or secondary health improvement or as a practice-based approach to improving the health of their patients. Based on our analysis we conclude that there is insufficient good evidence to support many of the health improvement interventions undertaken in general practice and primary care.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence to: Professor Stephen Peckham, Centre for Health Services Studies, George Allen Wing, University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NF, UK. Email:
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Primary Health Care Research & Development
  • ISSN: 1463-4236
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