Four years of practice-based and exercise-supported behavioural medicine in one community of the German CINDI area. Countrywide Integrated Non-Communicable Diseases Intervention

A Wiesemann, J Metz, E Nuessel, R Scheidt, W Scheuermann
International Journal of Sports Medicine 1997, 18 (4): 308-15
The main goal of the preventive intervention study in one community of the German CINDI (Countrywide Integrated Non-Communicable Diseases Intervention programme of the WHO) area was to improve cardiovascular health by reducing the risk factors smoking, hypertension, obesity, hypercholesterolaemia, and by changing sedentary lifestyle. The intervention was performed by using the special "Three-Level-Strategy", which is characterised by activities of primary care physicians in the usual consulting hour (1st level), with patient groups in their practices (2nd level), and at community level (3rd level) where a special work group and a co-ordinating general practice are co-operating. To evaluate the occurrence of the risk factors in practice and the local population, four cross-sectional random samples (N(total) = 4881) were carried out in seven practices from 1992 to 1995. On the community level, 23 special exercise-based health groups (N(total) = 600) were established and were investigated by means of a questionnaire, related to behaviour and health beliefs. A "Local Health Information System" facilitated the evaluation, the management of the data, and the organisation of the health programme. The results of the practice samples showed a significant reduction of smoking (-17.8%) and hypertension (-31.5%) (p < 0.01). The exercise-based groups were combined with nutritional counselling or relaxation and were accepted very well by the participants (83.8%). The participants considerably improved their health behaviour: 82% discussed health in their family, 37.3% stated an increase of healthy nutrition, 52% of relaxation; 86.2% intended to regularly increase physical activity in leisure time and 82 % could not imagine regular health training without exercise meetings. We conclude that the practice-based "Three-Level-Strategy" provides a strong support for successful long-term prevention of cardiovascular risk, particularly, when exercise-based health training sessions are performed in order to change sedentary lifestyle. When organised on community level, they might have a positive impact on the health behaviour of the whole community. Physical activity can be used as a "prodrug" for health promotion in a holistic way.

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