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Cholesterol treatment practices of primary care physicians.
  • Published Date:
    1992 Jul-Aug
  • Source:
    Public Health Rep. 107(4):441-448
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-1.68 MB]

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  • Description:
    The active involvement of primary care physicians is necessary in the diagnosis and treatment of elevated blood cholesterol. Empirical evidence suggests that primary care physicians generally initiate dietary and pharmacological treatment at threshold values higher than is currently recommended. To determine current treatment thresholds and establish factors that distinguish physicians who are more likely to initiate therapy at lower cholesterol values, 119 primary care physicians in four northern California communities were surveyed. Data collection included their demographic factors, treatment of hypothetical patients, self-efficacy regarding counseling patients about cholesterol reduction and personal health behaviors, outcome expectations, and cholesterol knowledge and attitudes. Results indicated that 59 percent of respondents would not start dietary treatment on a middle-aged female patient with a cholesterol of 215 milligrams per deciliter (mg per dl). Only 44 percent of respondents indicated that they would initiate pharmacological therapy for a middle-aged man with a cholesterol of 276 mg per dl. Logistic regression models were used to determine characteristics that influenced dietary and pharmacological treatment practices. Younger physicians, those who had had their own cholesterol checked, and those who personally ate a low-fat diet, were more likely to recommend diet therapy to patients with modest elevations of cholesterol. Willingness to use lipid lowering medications at more marked elevations was associated only with increased self-efficacy regarding use of drugs to lower cholesterol. These results indicate that physicians' personal health behaviors and self-efficacy should be addressed in interventions to modify cholesterol-related practice behavior.

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