Approximately 40% of cancers could be prevented if people lived healthier lifestyles. We have developed a theory-based brief intervention to share personalised cancer risk information and promote behaviour change within primary care. This study aimed to assess the feasibility and acceptability of incorporating this intervention into primary care consultations.
Patients eligible for an NHS Health Check or annual chronic disease review at five general practices were invited to participate in a non-randomised pilot study. In addition to the NHS Health Check or chronic disease review, those receiving the intervention were provided with their estimated risk of developing the most common preventable cancers alongside tailored behaviour change advice. Patients completed online questionnaires at baseline, immediately post-consultation and at 3-month follow-up. Consultations were audio/video recorded. Patients (n = 12) and healthcare professionals (HCPs) (n = 7) participated in post-intervention qualitative interviews that were analysed using thematic analysis.
62 patients took part. Thirty-four attended for an NHS Health Check plus the intervention; 7 for a standard NHS Health Check; 16 for a chronic disease review plus the intervention; and 5 for a standard chronic disease review. The mean time for delivery of the intervention was 9.6 min (SD 3) within NHS Health Checks and 9 min (SD 4) within chronic disease reviews. Fidelity of delivery of the intervention was high. Data from the questionnaires demonstrates potential improvements in health-related behaviours following the intervention. Patients receiving the intervention found the cancer risk information and lifestyle advice understandable, useful and motivating. HCPs felt that the intervention fitted well within NHS Health Checks and facilitated conversations around behaviour change. Integrating the intervention within chronic disease reviews was more challenging.
Incorporating a risk-based intervention to promote behaviour change for cancer prevention into primary care consultations is feasible and acceptable to both patients and HCPs. A randomised trial is now needed to assess the effect on health behaviours. When designing that trial, and other prevention activities within primary care, it is necessary to consider challenges around patient recruitment, the HCP contact time needed for delivery of interventions, and how best to integrate discussions about disease risk within routine care.