Health promotion for adolescents in primary care: randomised controlled trial

Walker, Z; Townsend, J; Oakley, L; Donovan, C; Smith, H; Hurst, Z; Bell, J; Marshall, S; (2002) Health promotion for adolescents in primary care: randomised controlled trial. BMJ, 325 (7363). p. 524. ISSN 1468-5833 DOI:

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OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness of inviting teenagers to general practice consultations to discuss health behaviour concerns and appropriate follow up care. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial, with participants randomised to a consultation (intervention) or usual care (control). Questionnaires completed at baseline, 3 months, and 12 months. SETTING: Eight general practices in Hertfordshire, England. PARTICIPANTS: 1516 teenagers aged 14-15 years. INTERVENTION: Consultations with practice nurses to discuss health concerns and develop plans for healthier lifestyles. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Mental and physical health, "stage of change" for health related behaviour, and use of health services. RESULTS: At baseline 970 teenagers completed questionnaires; 23% smoked, 35% had been drunk in the previous three months, 64% considered they ate unhealthily, 39% took little exercise, and 36% had possible depression. 41% (304) of teenagers invited attended for a consultation; over one third (112) were offered follow up care. More intervention group teenagers reported positive movement in stage of change for diet and exercise and in at least one of four behaviours (diet, exercise, smoking, drinking alcohol) at 3 months (41% v 31%, P<0.01), but this did not persist at 12 months. There was marginally more positive change in actual behaviour by intervention teenagers at 3 months (16% v 12%, P=0.06). Recognition of possible depression resulted in improved mental health outcomes at 3 and 12 months. 97% of attenders said they would recommend the intervention to a friend. CONCLUSIONS: Change in behaviour was slight but encouraging, and the intervention was well received and relatively cheap.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: General-practice, life-style, consultations, teenagers, advice, Adolescent, Adolescent Health Services, organization & administration, utilization, England, Family Practice, organization & administration, statistics & numerical data, Female, Health Behavior, Health Promotion, organization & administration, Health Status, Human, Knowledge, Male, Mental Health, Patient Acceptance of Health Care, statistics & numerical data, Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research
Faculty of Epidemiology and Population Health > Dept of Non-Communicable Disease Epidemiology
PubMed ID: 12217993
Web of Science ID: 177997800019


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