Study finds telephone outreach for NHS Health Checks positively received by patients from deprived communities

23 January 2019

A Bristol-based telephone outreach initiative to increase uptake of NHS Health Checks among people from more deprived communities and minority ethnic groups has been positively received by patients, an NIHR CLAHRC West study has shown.

The NHS Health Checks programme, which started in 2009, aims to reduce cardiovascular disease across England. Cardiovascular disease is a major cause of early death, ill-health and disability in the UK. The burden of this type of disease falls more heavily on people living in deprived circumstances and people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities.

Telephone outreach involves community workers telephoning patients in communities potentially at higher risk of cardiovascular disease, and who may be less likely to take up a written invitation, to engage them with NHS Health Checks. Where possible, the community worker’s cultural background and main language is matched to the patient. The call includes an invitation to book an NHS Health Check appointment, lifestyle questions from the Health Check, and signposting to lifestyle services.

The researchers interviewed 24 patients (15 female), from seven primary care practices, who had received an outreach call.

The call increased participants’ understanding of NHS Health Checks and overcame difficulties that the patients thought they might have in making an appointment. Half of the patients reported that they would not have booked if only invited by letter.

The cultural identity and language skills of the caller were important in facilitating the interaction for some patients who might otherwise encounter language or cultural barriers. The inclusion of lifestyle questions and signposting prompted a minority to make lifestyle changes.

Overall, patients valued the telephone invitation with ability to book during the call, reporting that it prompted them to accept an NHS Health Check.

Another paper exploring the experiences of the outreach workers who made the calls will be published soon.

Paper

Patient experiences of telephone outreach to enhance uptake of NHS Health Checks in more deprived communities and minority ethnic groups: A qualitative interview study
Emer Brangan, Tracey Stone, Amanda Chappell, Vivienne Harrison, Jeremy Horwood

Published in Health Expectations