Evaluating Primary Care Behavioral Counseling Interventions: An Evidence-based Approach. Background Article

Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, United States
American Journal of Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 4.53). 06/2002; 22(4):267-84. DOI: 10.1016/S0749-3797(02)00415-4
Source: PubMed


Risky behaviors are a leading cause of preventable morbidity and mortality, yet behavioral counseling interventions to address them are underutilized in healthcare settings. Research on such interventions has grown steadily, but the systematic review of this research is complicated by wide variations in the organization, content, and delivery of behavioral interventions and the lack of a consistent language and framework to describe these differences. The Counseling and Behavioral Interventions Work Group of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) was convened to address adapting existing USPSTF methods to issues and challenges raised by behavioral counseling intervention topical reviews. The systematic review of behavioral counseling interventions seeks to establish whether such interventions addressing individual behaviors improve health outcomes. Few studies directly address this question, so evidence addressing whether changing individual behavior improves health outcomes and whether behavioral counseling interventions in clinical settings help people change those behaviors must be linked. To illustrate this process, we present two separate analytic frameworks derived from screening topic tools that we developed to guide USPSTF behavioral topic reviews. No simple empirically validated model captures the broad range of intervention components across risk behaviors, but the Five A's construct-assess, advise, agree, assist, and arrange-adapted from tobacco cessation interventions in clinical care provides a workable framework to report behavioral counseling intervention review findings. We illustrate the use of this framework with general findings from recent behavioral counseling intervention studies. Readers are referred to the USPSTF (www.ahrq.gov/clinic/prevenix.htm or 1-800-358-9295) for systematic evidence reviews and USPSTF recommendations based on these reviews for specific behaviors.

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