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Cardiovascular disease risk communication in NHS Health Checks using QRISK®2 and JBS3 risk calculators: the RICO qualitative and quantitative study

Gidlow, Christopher J, Ellis, Naomi J, Cowap, Lisa, Riley, Victoria, Crone, Diane, Cottrell, Elizabeth, Grogan, Sarah ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7510-765X, Chambers, Ruth and Clark-Carter, David (2021) Cardiovascular disease risk communication in NHS Health Checks using QRISK®2 and JBS3 risk calculators: the RICO qualitative and quantitative study. Health Technology Assessment, 25 (50). ISSN 1366-5278

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Abstract

Background The NHS Health Check is a national cardiovascular disease prevention programme. There is a lack of evidence on how health checks are conducted, how cardiovascular disease risk is communicated to foster risk-reducing intentions or behaviour, and the impact on communication of using different cardiovascular disease risk calculators. Objectives RIsk COmmunication in Health Check (RICO) study aimed to explore practitioner and patient understanding of cardiovascular disease risk, the associated advice or treatment offered by the practitioner, and the response of the patients in health checks supported by either the QRISK®2 or the JBS3 lifetime risk calculator. Design This was a qualitative study with quantitative process evaluation. Setting Twelve general practices in the West Midlands of England, stratified on deprivation of the local area (bottom 50% vs. top 50%), and with matched pairs randomly allocated to use QRISK2 or JBS3 during health checks. Participants A total of 173 patients eligible for NHS Health Check and 15 practitioners. Interventions The health check was delivered using either the QRISK2 10-year risk calculator (usual practice) or the JBS3 lifetime risk calculator, with heart age, event-free survival age and risk score manipulation (intervention). Results Video-recorded health checks were analysed quantitatively (n = 173; JBS3, n = 100; QRISK2, n = 73) and qualitatively (n = 128; n = 64 per group), and video-stimulated recall interviews were undertaken with 40 patients and 15 practitioners, with 10 in-depth case studies. The duration of the health check varied (6.8–38 minutes), but most health checks were short (60% lasting < 20 minutes), with little cardiovascular disease risk discussion (average < 2 minutes). The use of JBS3 was associated with more cardiovascular disease risk discussion and fewer practitioner-dominated consultations than the use of QRISK2. Heart age and visual representations of risk, as used in JBS3, appeared to be better understood by patients than 10-year risk (QRISK2) and, as a result, the use of JBS3 was more likely to lead to discussion of risk factors and their management. Event-free survival age was not well understood by practitioners or patients. However, a lack of effective cardiovascular disease risk discussion in both groups increased the likelihood of a maladaptive coping response (i.e. no risk-reducing behaviour change). In both groups, practitioners often missed opportunities to check patient understanding and to tailor information on cardiovascular disease risk and its management during health checks, confirming apparent practitioner verbal dominance. Limitations The main limitations were under-recruitment in some general practices and the resulting imbalance between groups. Conclusions Communication of cardiovascular disease risk during health checks was brief, particularly when using QRISK2. Patient understanding of and responses to cardiovascular disease risk information were limited. Practitioners need to better engage patients in discussion of and action-planning for their cardiovascular disease risk to reduce misunderstandings. The use of heart age, visual representation of risk and risk score manipulation was generally seen to be a useful way of doing this. Future work could focus on more fundamental issues of practitioner training and time allocation within health check consultations. Trial registration Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN10443908. Funding This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment programme and will be published in full in Health Technology Assessment; Vol. 25, No. 50. See the NIHR Journals Library website for further project information.

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