Chronic lifestyle-related-diseases can be prevented by healthy lifestyle. Patients at high risk of disease may benefit from targeted health checks in general practice. However, general-practice-based-studies have shown that patient outcome, enablement, and well-being may be influenced by general practitioner (GP) empathy. The aim of this study is to investigate 1) how high risk patients evaluate their GPs’ empathy during a health check consultation, 2) whether the perceived GP empathy is associated with the patient’s enablement in immediate continuation of the health check consultation and 3) the patient’s subsequent lifestyle changes.
This study is part of a population based non-randomized feasibility study testing a complex intervention that systematically identifies citizens at high risk of lifestyle-related disease and with health-risk behavior and offers targeted preventive services in the Danish primary care sector. The ultimate aim of the intervention is to improve lifestyle and thereby reduce the risk of lifestyle-related disease. In the feasibility study a random sample of patients aged 30 to 59 years were invited to participate, and to fill in a questionnaire on lifestyle-risk factors. Participants deemed to be at high risk of disease were offered a focused clinical examination and a subsequent health check consultation at the GP. Following each health check consultation GP empathy and patient enablement were assessed using The Care Measure (CARE) and Patient Enablement Instrument (PEI). Patient’s perceived healthy-lifestyle change (y/n) was assessed after three months. The study has been approved by the Danish Data Protection Agency (J.nr 2015-57-0008) and registered at ClinicalTrial. Gov on June 13, 2016.
Twenty-six GP’s participated in the study. Among 93 patients receiving a health check consultation 60 rated the GPs empathy. The median CARE-score was 40. The PEI median was 5.5 and 44.9% achieved a healthier lifestyle. No association was observed between GP empathy and patient enablement or a perceived healthier lifestyle.
No statistical significant association between the CARE-score and patient enablement or a perceived healthier lifestyle was observed. Our results contrast previous findings and may to some extent be explained by a small sample size and the selected high-risk group.