Changes in health behaviours in adults at-risk of chronic disease: primary outcomes from the My health for life program

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Seib, Charrlotte
Moriarty, Stephanie
McDonald, Nicole
Anderson, Debra
Parkinson, Joy
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BACKGROUND: Chronic disease is the leading cause of premature death globally, and many of these deaths are preventable by modifying some key behavioural and metabolic risk factors. This study examines changes in health behaviours among men and women at risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease (CVD) who participated in a 6-month lifestyle intervention called the My health for life program. METHODS: The My health for life program is a Queensland Government-funded multi-component program designed to reduce chronic disease risk factors amongst at-risk adults in Queensland, Australia. The intervention comprises six sessions over a 6-month period, delivered by a trained facilitator or telephone health coach. The analysis presented in this paper stems from 9,372 participants who participated in the program between July 2017 and December 2019. Primary outcomes included fruit and vegetable intake, consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and take-away, alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, and physical activity. Variables were summed to form a single Healthy Lifestyle Index (HLI) ranging from 0 to 13, with higher scores denoting healthier behaviours. Longitudinal associations between lifestyle indices, program characteristics and socio-demographic characteristics were assessed using Gaussian Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE) models with an identity link and robust standard errors. RESULTS: Improvements in HLI scores were noted between baseline (Md = 8.8; IQR = 7.0, 10.0) and 26-weeks (Md = 10.0; IQR = 9.0, 11.0) which corresponded with increases in fruit and vegetable consumption and decreases in takeaway frequency (p < .001 for all) but not risky alcohol intake. Modelling showed higher average HLI among those aged 45 or older (β = 1.00, 95% CI = 0.90, 1.10, p < .001) with vocational educational qualifications (certificate/diploma: β = 0.32, 95% CI = 0.14, 0.50, p < .001; bachelor/post-graduate degree β = 0.79, 95% CI = 0.61, 0.98, p < .001) while being male, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background, or not currently working conferred lower average HLI scores (p < .001 for all). CONCLUSIONS: While participants showed improvements in dietary indicators, changes in alcohol consumption and physical activity were less amenable to the program. Additional research is needed to help understand the multi-level barriers and facilitators of behaviour change in this context to further tailor the intervention for priority groups.

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© The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made.
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Public health
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Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Healthy lifestyle index
Chronic disease prevention
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Seib, C; Moriarty, S; McDonald, N; Anderson, D; Parkinson, J, Changes in health behaviours in adults at-risk of chronic disease: primary outcomes from the My health for life program, BMC Public Health, 2022, 22, pp. 1648