A lifestyle-modification telephone-based service is delivered in New South Wales (NSW; the Get Healthy Information and Coaching Service (GHS)) as an important obesity-prevention, population-wide program. The present study examined referrals from general practitioners (GP) versus self-referral to the GHS in terms of risk profile and effectiveness of outcomes. The study used a pre-post test design to assess changes in outcomes within the setting of a telephone-based lifestyle-support service available to NSW adults (18+ years) who self-referred or were referred by their health practitioner and/or GP, and registered for the GHS between February 2009 and August 2013 (n≤22183). The GHS has two service components: (1) the provision of an information kit (one off contact) on healthy eating, being physically active and achieving and/or maintaining a healthy weight; and (2) a 6-month coaching program that includes 10 telephone calls aimed at achieving and maintaining lifestyle-related goals. Sociodemographic characteristics, referral source and self-reported anthropometric (height, waist and waist circumference (WC)) and behavioural risk factor (physical activity and nutrition-related behaviours) data were collected at baseline and at 6 months. Analysis revealed that GPs effectively recruited hard-to-reach subtargets, as well as adults who are obese and have an increased WC risk. Participants in the GHS coaching program, irrespective of GHS referral source, reported a mean weight loss of -3.8kg, a decrease in WC of -5.0cm and increases in both fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity. In conclusion, GPs have an important role in GHS uptake (through proactive referral or as an adjunct to practice-based interventions) because they can recruit those most at need and facilitate improvements in their patients' risk factor profiles.
- Sociodemographic characteristics