BACKGROUND: Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading causes of death globally and are associated with a limited set of common, modifiable health behaviours: tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diet. General practice offers an ideal avenue for addressing such health behaviours on a population-wide basis. This paper describes the protocol of a multiple health behaviour change intervention designed for implementation in general practice and summarises the baseline characteristics of its participants.
METHOD/DESIGN: The 10 Small Steps (10SS) study, a randomised controlled trial, involved 4,678 adult general practice patients in Queensland, Australia. Self-reported data were collected to establish the proportion of participants meeting recommended guidelines for ten health behaviours: physical activity, body mass index, alcohol, smoking and six dietary behaviours. Participants were randomised to four groups: contact at baseline only ('single intervention' and corresponding control group) and contact at baseline and 3 months ('dual intervention' and corresponding control group). At each contact the participants received a computer-tailored feedback and one page information sheet according to their allocation to intervention or control groups. Change in the intervention group compared to the control group was assessed at 3 and12 months after baseline data collection.Responses were summed to calculate an individual lifestyle score (the Prudence Score), which ranged from 0 to 10. The baseline response was 56.5% (4678 of 8343 invited participants) and the study sample was primarily female (68.7%) with an average age of 47 years. The mean Prudence Score was 5.8 (95%CI 5.75-5.85).
DISCUSSION: Baseline data from the 10SS study show that nearly all participants engage in some health behaviours but relatively few adhere simultaneously to a core set of dietary and lifestyle behaviours associated with risk of NCDs. Ample scope exists to improve health behaviour to reduce NCDs in the general practice setting and the 10SS study trial will provide data on the extent to which a minimal computer-tailored intervention can meet this objective. The protocol developed for the 10SS study has potential for translation into routine general practice as it has minimal impact on practice routine whilst contributing to primary prevention objectives.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: The Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry ACTRN12611001213932.