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Public Health Rep. 1988 Jul-Aug; 103(4): 360–365.
PMCID: PMC1478102

The role of physicians in a community-wide program for prevention of cardiovascular disease: the Minnesota Heart Health Program.


The Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHHP) aims to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality by reducing risk factors among the mass of residents in three midwestern communities. A major aspect of the program is the involvement of community physicians because they have high credibility as citizen leaders, especially on health issues. In the MHHP, physicians contributed in a number of ways. The initial contacts with physicians resulted in their providing support and introductions to other community leaders, whose active support was also gained. Physicians sit as members of the central Community Advisory Borads of MHHP and serve on the executive committees of these boards. All MHHP issues related to medical practice are brought before Physicians' Advisory Groups in each community for resolution. Primary care physicians attend MHHP continuing education programs. In a survey of 109 physicians in one of the MHHP communities, 95 percent of respondents believed cigarette smoking to be an important risk factor for CVD, but only 15 percent judged themselves to be effective in dealing with patients who smoked. Forty-one percent of respondents said that elevated blood cholesterol is an important risk factor, but only 20 percent felt effective in treating the condition. Only 18 percent of the physicians in the sample believed that a poor eating pattern plays a substantial role in CVD, and 9 percent felt effective in counseling patients about eating habits. This pattern of results indicates the need not only for continuing education about risk factors for CVD, but also for training to improve patient counseling skills.

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