The Health Promoting Practices (HPP) project involves the development of a formal framework to support health professionals in promoting healthy lifestyle messages with their patients. While many health professionals are already undertaking the activities within the HPP model, the project provides recognition of their efforts, whist encouraging patients to take control of their own health. Through the HPP framework, four healthy lifestyle key messages are promoted: to engage in healthy eating, physical activity, limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking.
Dental and physiotherapy practices have been chosen as the initial sites for the project as they offer unique opportunities for health promotion. Oral health and movement/function are being increasingly related to general health and wellbeing. Dental and physiotherapy professionals are playing an increasingly important role in providing health information on all aspects of health.
The framework includes a short Health Self-Assessment questionnaire that patients complete prior to entering the consultation. The Project challenges patients to think about their healthy lifestyle choices, and discuss these with their health care professional. The completed questionnaire will assist practitioners in identifying and discussing key messages with each patient, referring onto other health professionals or providing further information such as the supplied patient information brochure and the Health Promoting Practices website, as appropriate.
The need to keep people healthy and out of hospital has become increasingly important and a subject of government, community and professional concern [1-3]. In 2007–08, 99% of Australians aged 15 and over had at least one risk factor for poorer health (such as high blood pressure or not eating enough vegetables), and about one in seven people had five or more risk factors . As the population ages, and unhealthy behaviours continue, the demands on health care systems and other areas of the economy grows. Preventive measures are increasingly seen as essential means of reducing this burden .
As such, the Victorian State Government has made prevention a priority. The Victorian Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2011 – 2015 aims to improve the health and wellbeing of all Victorians by engaging communities in prevention, and by strengthening systems for health protection, health promotion and preventive healthcare across all sectors and all levels of government. As part of the Public Health and Wellbeing Plan 2011 – 2015, a number of action plans have been implemented, for example, the Healthy Together Action Plan for Oral Health Promotion 2013-2017. The aim of this action plan is to improve the oral health of all Victorians, including those at higher risk. This includes an emphasis on partnerships to build a prevention and early intervention system for oral disease.
One such partnership is between the patient and practitioner. In recent years there has been a shift from a practitioner led approach to healthcare to a more patient centred approach. Patients are being encouraged to take control of their own healthcare and participate in a collaborative relationship with their health care provider to ensure the best possible health outcomes. Health professionals can play a role in helping their patients to reduce the incidence of preventable diseases by providing the necessary information about risk factors and healthy behaviours. Patients can take action to ‘self-manage’ their health by adopting recommended habits (or health promoting practices).
HPP goals and Objectives
The goal of the HPP project is to create a framework to assist all health professionals, regardless of their discipline, to discuss healthy lifestyle choices with patients.
To achieve this goal, the individual objectives of the HPP project are to:
- Increase the number of brief health promotion interventions by dental and physiotherapy practitioners
- Contribute to an improvement in health behaviours for patients attending pilot settings
- Increase the number of patients who perceive their practice to be a health promoting environment
- Increase the number of patients who feel that they can work as a team with their health professional to achieve better health outcomes
- Increase patient knowledge relevant to the key healthy lifestyle messages
- Increase health professionals’ confidence in promoting healthy lifestyle messages to patients
About the HPP Logo
The Health Promoting Practices logo depicts four people holding hands. This represents partnerships between patients and practitioners and between practitioners from different disciplines, which are enhanced by the HPP model. The four figures represent the four healthy lifestyle key messages: to engage in healthy eating, physical activity, limit alcohol consumption and quit smoking. The HPP philosophy is also conveyed in the project’s tag line ‘supporting healthy lifestyles’.
 For example: Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (ACDPA). Submission to the National Preventative Health Taskforce. [online]. Available from: http://www.cancer.org.au/content/pdf/ACDPA/ACDPA-NPHTF-final-submission.pdf (accessed 8 August 2013).
 Baade PD, Meng X, Sinclair C Estimating the future burden of cancers preventable by better diet and physical activity in Australia. Med J Aust 2012; 196(5): 337-340.
 Jan S, Essue BM & Leeder SR (2012) Falling through the cracks: the hidden economic burden of chronic illness and disability on Australian households. Med J Aust 196(1): 29-31.
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Australia’s Health, 2012