Cardiovascular (CV) event prevention (e.g., myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accident) remains the single most important public health problem in the United States, and cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death among VA users. Improving the provision of prevention services is a primary focus of the Secretary's New Models of Care Transformational Initiative. However, prevention has been challenging to achieve. Multifactorial behavioral interventions are effective in treating a number of chronic illnesses (e.g., hypertension, diabetes), but less is known about their ability to reduce risk among patients without a unifying chronic illness. Group visits are an efficient, effective strategy for delivering a multifactorial behavior change intervention; the VA is committed to the group visit strategy to address a wide array of primary care problems. Groups have been shown to be an effective means of improving a number of outcomes in a number of individual diseases, but, again, their role in cardiovascular prevention among patients without a single common illness is unknown. Coaching is a type of multi-factorial behavioral intervention that involves goal-setting, and working to overcome barriers to behavior change. Coaching can be performed one-on-one, but coaching interventions have been delivered in group settings. We have shown, in a 150-subject RCT, that group coaching plus individualized telephone coaching reduces cardiovascular risk, but the population in that study was very different from typical VA users. We propose a three-site, two-arm randomized trial measuring the effectiveness of a group prevention coaching (GPC) intervention in improving cardiovascular risk, compared to VA usual care. The study will be performed at the Durham, Buffalo, and Syracuse VAMCs. Each arm will have 200 patients; patients will be VA users without prior history of cardiovascular event, but with at least 5% risk of such an event, and with either inadequately controlled hypertension or dyslipidemia, or current smoking. The GPC intervention will focus on changing a behavior of the patient's choice that is likely to lead to improvements in cholesterol, blood pressure, or to smoking cessation. Behaviors that will be reinforced will include but not be limited to healthy eating, decreased caloric intake, increased physical activity, stress reduction, and participatory decision making with physicians. Barriers to these behaviors will be identified. The coach in both intervention arms will adopt a problem-solving approach to overcoming the above barriers and reinforcing the above behaviors; problem- solving is a well-described framework for behavior change. The GPC coach/interventionist for will be either the facility's Health Behavior Coordinator (HBC) or a person hired for the research enterprise but trained and credentialed identically to an HBC. All outcomes will be obtained at baseline and 6 months after enrollment by blinded research personnel. The primary outcome will be change in 10-year risk of fatal coronary event or non-fatal MI 6 months after enrollment, as measured by Framingham Risk Score. Key secondary outcomes will include dietary content by Food Frequency Questionnaire (26), physical activity as measured by International Physical Activity Questionnaire (27), and weight. We will also determine if group cohesion, as measured by the Group Dynamics Inventory (28), influences the effectiveness of GPC. We well also assess whether time spent in contact with a coach influences the effectiveness, by database log-in timekeeping strategies.
Prevention of cardiovascular disease is a primary focus of the Secretary's New Models of Care Transformational Initiative. However, prevention has been hard to accomplish. The VA is committed to using group visits to address a wide array of primary care problems. Coaching is a method to help veterans set and reach health goals by helping them overcome barriers to behavior change. Coaching can be performed one-on-one or in groups. Our study will test the effectiveness of a group prevention coaching (GPC) intervention in improving cardiovascular risk. GPCs will focus on changing a behavior of the patient's choice that is likely to lead to improvements in heart disease risk. The coach will adopt a problem-solving approach to helping veterans make these improvements. The primary outcome will be change in 10-year risk of major cardiac event; we will also assess improvements in food choice, physical activity and weight.