Quantifying the benefits and harms of various preventive health activities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background and objective

It is helpful for general practitioners (GPs) and their patients to understand the amount of health benefit expected from different preventive activities to enable a thoughtful choice of which to adopt first. The aim of this article is to illustrate how it might be possible to quantify the mortality benefit for cancer screening, quitting smoking, losing weight and treating lipids, which are preventive activities from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP's) Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice (Red Book).

Methods

A sample of common preventive activities was taken, with an outcome for each selected for fair comparison, and benefits and harms were estimated.

Results

For a man aged 50 years, the benefit in terms of reduced risk of dying is greatest for quitting smoking (at 24 fewer deaths/1000/decade), which is approximately 10 times the benefit of lowering lipids in a man with metabolic syndrome and about 50 times greater than from participating in regular colorectal cancer screening. Benefits for women are generally lower, as their baseline risk is lower.

Discussion

It is feasible to quantify the benefits of some preventive activities, although estimating them is not straightforward and requires several assumptions. Nevertheless, extending estimates such as these to the items in the RACGP's Red Book would assist GPs and their patients' preventive activity prioritisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-845
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian Journal of General Practice
Volume47
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Cite this

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title = "Quantifying the benefits and harms of various preventive health activities",
abstract = "Background and objectiveIt is helpful for general practitioners (GPs) and their patients to understand the amount of health benefit expected from different preventive activities to enable a thoughtful choice of which to adopt first. The aim of this article is to illustrate how it might be possible to quantify the mortality benefit for cancer screening, quitting smoking, losing weight and treating lipids, which are preventive activities from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP's) Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice (Red Book).MethodsA sample of common preventive activities was taken, with an outcome for each selected for fair comparison, and benefits and harms were estimated.ResultsFor a man aged 50 years, the benefit in terms of reduced risk of dying is greatest for quitting smoking (at 24 fewer deaths/1000/decade), which is approximately 10 times the benefit of lowering lipids in a man with metabolic syndrome and about 50 times greater than from participating in regular colorectal cancer screening. Benefits for women are generally lower, as their baseline risk is lower.DiscussionIt is feasible to quantify the benefits of some preventive activities, although estimating them is not straightforward and requires several assumptions. Nevertheless, extending estimates such as these to the items in the RACGP's Red Book would assist GPs and their patients' preventive activity prioritisation.",
author = "Ben Ewald and {Del Mar}, Chris and Tammy Hoffmann",
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Quantifying the benefits and harms of various preventive health activities. / Ewald, Ben; Del Mar, Chris; Hoffmann, Tammy.

In: Australian Journal of General Practice, Vol. 47, No. 12, 12.2018, p. 842-845.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Quantifying the benefits and harms of various preventive health activities

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AU - Del Mar, Chris

AU - Hoffmann, Tammy

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N2 - Background and objectiveIt is helpful for general practitioners (GPs) and their patients to understand the amount of health benefit expected from different preventive activities to enable a thoughtful choice of which to adopt first. The aim of this article is to illustrate how it might be possible to quantify the mortality benefit for cancer screening, quitting smoking, losing weight and treating lipids, which are preventive activities from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP's) Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice (Red Book).MethodsA sample of common preventive activities was taken, with an outcome for each selected for fair comparison, and benefits and harms were estimated.ResultsFor a man aged 50 years, the benefit in terms of reduced risk of dying is greatest for quitting smoking (at 24 fewer deaths/1000/decade), which is approximately 10 times the benefit of lowering lipids in a man with metabolic syndrome and about 50 times greater than from participating in regular colorectal cancer screening. Benefits for women are generally lower, as their baseline risk is lower.DiscussionIt is feasible to quantify the benefits of some preventive activities, although estimating them is not straightforward and requires several assumptions. Nevertheless, extending estimates such as these to the items in the RACGP's Red Book would assist GPs and their patients' preventive activity prioritisation.

AB - Background and objectiveIt is helpful for general practitioners (GPs) and their patients to understand the amount of health benefit expected from different preventive activities to enable a thoughtful choice of which to adopt first. The aim of this article is to illustrate how it might be possible to quantify the mortality benefit for cancer screening, quitting smoking, losing weight and treating lipids, which are preventive activities from The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners' (RACGP's) Guidelines for preventive activities in general practice (Red Book).MethodsA sample of common preventive activities was taken, with an outcome for each selected for fair comparison, and benefits and harms were estimated.ResultsFor a man aged 50 years, the benefit in terms of reduced risk of dying is greatest for quitting smoking (at 24 fewer deaths/1000/decade), which is approximately 10 times the benefit of lowering lipids in a man with metabolic syndrome and about 50 times greater than from participating in regular colorectal cancer screening. Benefits for women are generally lower, as their baseline risk is lower.DiscussionIt is feasible to quantify the benefits of some preventive activities, although estimating them is not straightforward and requires several assumptions. Nevertheless, extending estimates such as these to the items in the RACGP's Red Book would assist GPs and their patients' preventive activity prioritisation.

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