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1.  Temporal Shifts in Cardiovascular Risk Factor Distribution 
Complementary strategies to shift risk factor population distributions and target high-risk individuals are required to reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
To examine secular changes in glucose and CVD risk factors over 20 years during an individual and population-based CVD prevention program in Västerbotten County, Sweden.
Population-based health promotion intervention was conducted and annual invitation for individuals turning 40, 50, and 60 years to attend a health assessment, including an oral glucose tolerance test, biochemical measures, and a questionnaire. Data were collected between 1991 and 2010, analyzed in 2012 and available for 120,929 individuals. Linear regression modeling examined age-adjusted differences in CVD risk factor means over time. Data were direct-age-standardized to compare disease prevalence.
Between 1991–1995 and 2006–2010, mean age-adjusted cholesterol (men=−0.53, 95% CI=−0.55, −0.50 mmol/L; women=−0.48, 95% CI=−0.50, −0.45 mmol/L) and systolic blood pressure declined (men=−3.06, 95% CI=−3.43, −2.70 mm Hg; women=−5.27, 95% CI=−5.64, −4.90 mm Hg), with corresponding decreases in the age-standardized prevalence of hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Mean age-adjusted 2-hour plasma glucose (men=0.19, 95% CI=0.15, 0.23 mmol/L; women=0.08, 95% CI=0.04, 0.11 mmol/L) and BMI increased (men=1.12, 95% CI=1.04, 1.21; women=0.65, 95% CI=0.55, 0.75), with increases in the age-standardized prevalence of diabetes and obesity.
These data demonstrate the potential of combined individual- and population-based approaches to CVD risk factor control and highlight the need for additional strategies addressing hyperglycemia and obesity.
PMCID: PMC3898870  PMID: 24439344
2.  A community intervention for behaviour modification: an experience to control cardiovascular diseases in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1043.
Non-communicable Disease (NCD) is increasingly burdening developing countries including Indonesia. However only a few intervention studies on NCD control in developing countries are reported. This study aims to report experiences from the development of a community-based pilot intervention to prevent cardiovascular disease (CVD), as initial part of a future extended PRORIVA program (Program to Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors in Yogyakarta, Indonesia) in an urban area within Jogjakarta, Indonesia.
The study is quasi-experimental and based on a mixed design involving both quantitative and qualitative methods. Four communities were selected as intervention areas and one community was selected as a referent area. A community-empowerment approach was utilized to motivate community to develop health promotion activities. Data on knowledge and attitudes with regard to CVD risk factors, smoking, physical inactivity, and fruit and vegetable were collected using the WHO STEPwise questionnaire. 980 people in the intervention areas and 151 people in the referent area participated in the pre-test. In the post-test 883 respondents were re-measured from the intervention areas and 144 respondents from the referent area. The qualitative data were collected using written meeting records (80), facilitator reports (5), free-listing (112) and in-depth interviews (4). Those data were analysed to contribute a deeper understanding of how the population perceived the intervention.
Frequency and participation rates of activities were higher in the low socioeconomic status (SES) communities than in the high SES communities (40 and 13 activities respectively). The proportion of having high knowledge increased significantly from 56% to 70% among men in the intervention communities. The qualitative study shows that respondents thought PRORIVA improved their awareness of CVD and encouraged them to experiment healthier behaviours. PRORIVA was perceived as a useful program and was expected for the continuation. Citizens of low SES communities thought PRORIVA was a “cheerful” program.
A community-empowerment approach can encourage community participation which in turn may improve the citizen’s knowledge of the danger impact of CVD. Thus, a bottom-up approach may improve citizens’ acceptance of a program, and be a feasible way to prevent and control CVD in urban communities within a low income country.
PMCID: PMC3840649  PMID: 24188684
CVD prevention; Community-based intervention; Community-empowerment; Primary prevention
3.  Primary weight maintenance: an observational study exploring candidate variables for intervention 
Nutrition Journal  2013;12:97.
Previous studies have focused on weight maintenance following weight loss, i.e. secondary weight maintenance (SWM). The long-term results of SWM have been rather modest and it has been suggested that preventing initial weight gain, i.e. primary weight maintenance (PWM), may be more successful. Therefore, developing a prevention strategy focused on PWM, enabling normal weight or overweight individuals to maintain their weight, would be of great interest. The aim of this study was to identify attitudes, strategies, and behaviors that are predictive of PWM in different age, sex and BMI groups in Northern Sweden.
A questionnaire was mailed to 3497 individuals in a Swedish population that had two measured weights taken ten years apart, as participants in the Västerbotten Intervention Programme. Subjects were between 41–63 years of age at the time of the survey, had a baseline BMI of 20–30, and a ten year percent change in BMI greater than -3%. The respondents were divided into twelve subgroups based on baseline age (30, 40 and 50), sex and BMI (normal weight and overweight). Analysis of variance (ANOVA), correlation, and linear regression were performed to identify independent predictors of PWM.
Of the 166 predictors tested, 152 (91.6%) were predictive of PWM in at least one subgroup. However, only 7 of these 152 variables (4.6%) were significant in 6 subgroups or more. The number of significant predictors of PWM was higher for male (35.8) than female (27.5) subgroups (p=0.044). There was a tendency (non significant) for normal weight subgroups to have a higher number of predictors (35.3) than overweight subgroups (28.0). Adjusted R-squared values ranged from 0.1 to 0.420.
The large number of PWM predictors identified, and accompanying high R-squared values, provide a promising first step towards the development of PWM interventions. The large disparity in the pattern of significant variables between subgroups suggests that these interventions should be tailored to the person’s demographic (age, sex and BMI). The next steps should be directed towards evaluation of these predictors for causal potential.
PMCID: PMC3717287  PMID: 23855935
Overweight; Obesity; Primary weight maintenance; Obesity prevention; Sweden; Middle-age
4.  Lifestyle interventions in primary health care: professional and organizational challenges 
Background: Interventions that support patient efforts at lifestyle changes that reduce tobacco use, hazardous use of alcohol, unhealthy eating habits and insufficient physical activity represent important areas of development for health care. Current research shows that it is challenging to reorient health care toward health promotion. The aim of this study was to explore the extent of health care professional work with lifestyle interventions in Swedish primary health care, and to describe professional knowledge, attitudes and perceived organizational support for lifestyle interventions. Methods: The study is based on a cross-sectional Web-based survey directed at general practitioners, other physicians, residents, public health nurses and registered nurses (n = 315) in primary health care. Results: Fifty-nine percent of the participants indicated that lifestyle interventions were a substantial part of their duties. A majority (77%) would like to work more with patient lifestyles. Health professionals generally reported a thorough knowledge of lifestyle intervention methods for disease prevention. Significant differences between professional groups were found with regard to specific knowledge and extent of work with lifestyle interventions. Alcohol was the least addressed lifestyle habit. Management was supportive, but structures to sustain work with lifestyle interventions were scarce, and a need for national guidelines was identified. Conclusions: Health professionals reported thorough knowledge and positive attitudes toward lifestyle interventions. When planning for further implementation of lifestyle interventions in primary health care, differences between professional groups in knowledge, extent of work with promotion of healthy lifestyles and lifestyle issues and provision of organizational support such as national guidelines should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3901313  PMID: 23722861
5.  Plasma folate, but not homocysteine, is associated with Apolipoprotein A1 levels in a non-fortified population 
Elevated total plasma homocysteine (tHcy) in humans is associated with cardiovascular disease but prevention trials have failed to confirm causality. Reported reasons for this association have been that homocysteine and its major genetic determinant methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) may have an effect on HDL and Apolipoprotein (Apo) A1 levels. We wanted to study if tHcy and its major determinants were correlated with Apo A1 levels in a large population without folate fortification.
This study was a prospective incident nested case-referent study within the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study Cohort (NSHDSC), including 545 cases with first myocardial infarction and 1054 matched referents, median age at inclusion was 59 years. Univariate and multiple regression analyzes was used to study the associations between apolipoproteins Apo A1 and B, tHcy, folate and vitamin B12 in plasma as well as MTHFR polymorphisms 677C>T and 1298A>C.
Apo A1 and Apo B were strongly associated with the risk of a first myocardial infarction. tHcy was not associated with Apo A1 levels. Instead, folate had an independent positive association with Apo A1 levels in univariate and multiple regression models. The associations were seen in all men and women, among referents but not among cases. MTHFR polymorphisms had no clear effect on Apo A1 levels.
Analyzing over 1500 subjects we found an independent positive association between plasma folate (major dietary determinant of tHcy) and Apo A1 levels among those who later did not develop a first myocardial infarction. No association was seen between tHcy and Apo A1.
PMCID: PMC3679998  PMID: 23697869
Apolipoprotein; Homocysteine; Myocardial infarction; Folate; Epidemiology
6.  Foreword 
Global Health Action  2013;6:10.3402/gha.v6i0.20446.
PMCID: PMC3582692  PMID: 23480985
7.  Community participation and sustainability – evidence over 25 years in the Västerbotten Intervention Programme 
Global Health Action  2012;5:10.3402/gha.v5i0.19166.
Selection bias and declining participation rates are of concern in many long-term epidemiological studies. The Västerbotten Intervention Programme (VIP) was launched in 1985 as a response to alarming reports on elevated cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in Västerbotten County in Northern Sweden. The VIP invites women and men to a health examination and health counselling during the year of their 40th, 50th, and 60th birthdays.
To evaluate trends in participation rates and determinants of participation in the VIP from 1990 to 2006.
Registry data on socio-economic status from Statistics Sweden, and mortality and hospitalisation data from the National Board of Health and Welfare, both covering the whole Swedish population, were linked to the VIP and analysed for participants and non-participants.
During 1990–2006, 117,710 individuals were eligible to participate in the VIP, and 40,472 of them were eligible to participate twice. There were 96,560 observations for participants and 61,622 for non-participants. The overall participation rate increased from 56 to 65%. Participants and non-participants had minimal differences in education and age. Initial small differences by sex and degree of urban residence decreased over time. Despite an increasing participation rate in all groups, those with low income or who were single had an approximately 10% lower participation rate than those with high or medium-income or who were married or cohabitating.
Sustainability of the VIP is based on organisational integration into primary health care services and targeting of the entire middle-aged population. This enables the programme to meet population expectations of health promotion and to identify high-risk individuals who are then entered into routine preventive health care services. This has the potential to increase participation rates, to minimise social selection bias, and to reinforce other community-based interventions.
PMCID: PMC3525921  PMID: 23528041
health surveys; intervention; community participation; primary health care; selection bias
8.  Time Trends in Blood Pressure, Body Mass Index and Smoking in the Vietnamese Population: A Meta-Analysis from Multiple Cross-Sectional Surveys 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42825.
Data for trends in cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors are needed to set priorities and evaluate intervention programmes in the community. We estimated time trends in blood pressure (BP), anthropometric variables and smoking in the Vietnamese population and highlighted the differences between men and women or between rural and urban areas.
A dataset of 23,563 adults aged 25–74 from 5 cross-sectional surveys undertaken within Vietnam from 2001 to 2009 by the Vietnam National Heart Institute was used to estimate mean BP, weight, waist circumference (WC), body mass index (BMI), the prevalence of hypertension, adiposity or smoking, which were standardised to the national age structure of 2009. Multilevel mixed linear models were used to estimate annual changes in the variables of interest, adjusted by age, sex, residential area, with random variations for age and surveyed provinces.
Among the adult population, the age-standardised mean systolic and diastolic BP increased by 0.8 and 0.3 mmHg in women, 1.1 and 0.4 mmHg in men, while the mean BMI increased by 0.1 kgm−2 in women, 0.2 kgm−2 in men per year. Consequently, the prevalence of hypertension and adiposity increased by 0.9 and 0.3% in women, 1.1 and 0.9% in men with similar time trends in both rural and urban areas, while smoking prevalence only increased in women by 0.3% per year. A U-shaped association was found between age-adjusted BP and BMI in both sexes and in both areas.
From 2001 to 2009, mean BP, weight and WC significantly increased in the Vietnamese population, leading to an increased prevalence of hypertension and adiposity, suggesting the need for the development of multi-sectoral cost-effective population-based interventions to improve CVD management and prevention. The U-shaped relationship between BP and BMI highlighted the hypertension burden in the underweight population, which is usually neglected in CVD interventions.
PMCID: PMC3415402  PMID: 22912747
9.  Trends of blood pressure levels and management in Västerbotten County, Sweden, during 1990–2010 
Global Health Action  2012;5:10.3402/gha.v5i0.18195.
Availability of longitudinal data on hypertension and blood pressure levels are important to assess changes over time at the population level. Moreover, detailed information in different population sub-groups is important to understand inequity and social determinants of blood pressure distribution in the population.
The objectives of this study are to: (1) describe the trends of population blood pressure levels in men and women between different educational levels and geographic areas in Sweden during 1990–2010; (2) identify prevalences of hypertension, awareness, treatment, and control in the population; and (3) assess the 10-year risk of developing hypertension among individuals with normal and high normal blood pressures.
This study is based on data from the Västerbotten Intervention Program (VIP) in Västerbotten County, Sweden. The cross-sectional analysis includes 133,082 VIP health examinations among individuals aged 30, 40, 50, and 60 years from 1990 to 2010. The panel analysis includes 34,868 individuals who were re-examined 10 years after the baseline examination. Individuals completed a self-administered health questionnaire that covers demographic and socio-economic information, self-reported health, and lifestyle behaviours. Blood pressure measurement was obtained prior to the questionnaire. In the cross-sectional analysis, trends of blood pressure by sex, and between educational groups and geographic areas are presented. In the panel analysis, the 10-year risk of developing hypertension is estimated using the predicted probability from logistic regression analysis for each sex, controlling for age and educational level.
The prevalence of hypertension decreased from 1990 to 2010; from 43.8 to 36.0% (p < 0.001) among men, and 37.6 to 27.5% among women (p < 0.001). Individuals with basic education had a significantly higher prevalence of hypertension compared to those with medium or high education. Although the decreases were observed in all geographic areas, individuals in rural inland areas had a much higher prevalence compared to those who lived in Umeå City. The proportion of hypertensive women who were aware of their hypertension (61.7%) was significantly higher than men (51.6%). About 34% of men and 42% of women with hypertension reported taking blood pressure medication. Over time, awareness and control of hypertension improved (from 46.5% in 1990 to 69% in 2010 and from 30 to 65%, respectively). The gaps between educational groups diminished. This study shows a significantly higher risk of developing hypertension for men and women with high normal blood pressure compared to those with normal blood pressure at baseline in all age cohorts and educational groups. The average risks of developing hypertension among men with high normal blood pressure were 21.5, 45.8, and 56.3% in the 30, 40, and 50-year cohorts, respectively. Corresponding numbers for women were 22.6, 47.4, and 57.9%.
Levels of blood pressure and hypertension decreased significantly among the Västerbotten population in the last 21 years. Hypertension management has improved and there is increased awareness, treatment, and control of blood pressure. Despite these achievements, the persisting social gaps in blood pressure levels and management demand further investigation and action from policy makers. Future research should attempt to identify and address the root causes of these health inequities to ensure better and equal health for the whole population.
PMCID: PMC3409341  PMID: 22855645
hypertension; awareness; treatment; control; Sweden; Västerbotten Intervention Program; high normal; prehypertension
10.  Effectiveness of community-based comprehensive healthy lifestyle promotion on cardiovascular disease risk factors in a rural Vietnamese population: a quasi-experimental study 
Health promotion is a key component for primary prevention of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This study evaluated the impact of healthy lifestyle promotion campaigns on CVD risk factors (CVDRF) in the general population in the context of a community-based programme on hypertension management.
A quasi-experimental intervention study was carried out in two rural communes of Vietnam from 2006 to 2009. In the intervention commune, a hypertensive-targeted management programme integrated with a community-targeted health promotion was initiated, while no new programme, apart from conventional healthcare services, was provided in the reference commune. Health promotion campaigns focused on smoking cessation, reducing alcohol consumption, encouraging physical activity and reducing salty diets. Repeated cross-sectional surveys in local adult population aged 25 years and over were undertaken to assess changes in blood pressure (BP) and behavioural CVDRFs (smoking, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity and salty diet) in both communes before and after the 3-year intervention.
Overall 4,650 adults above 25 years old were surveyed, in four randomly independent samples covering both communes at baseline and after the 3-year intervention. Although physical inactivity and obesity increased over time in the intervention commune, there was a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic BP (3.3 and 4.7 mmHg in women versus 3.0 and 4.6 mmHg in men respectively) in the general population at the intervention commune. Health promotion reduced levels of salty diets but had insignificant impact on the prevalence of daily smoking or heavy alcohol consumption.
Community-targeted healthy lifestyle promotion can significantly improve some CVDRFs in the general population in a rural area over a relatively short time span. Limited effects on a context-bound CVDRF like smoking suggested that higher intensity of intervention, a supportive environment or a gender approach are required to maximize the effectiveness and maintain the sustainability of the health intervention.
PMCID: PMC3487981  PMID: 22831548
Cardiovascular disease risk factors; Healthy lifestyle promotion; Community-based intervention; Hypertension management; Quasi-experimental study; Vietnam
11.  Measuring self-reported health in low-income countries: piloting three instruments in semi-rural Burkina Faso 
Global Health Action  2012;5:10.3402/gha.v5i0.8488.
National surveys in low-income countries increasingly rely on self-reported measures of health. The ease, speed, and economy of collecting self-reports of health make such collection attractive for rapid appraisals. However, the interpretation of these measures is complicated since different cultures understand and respond to the same question in different ways.
The aim of this pilot study was to develop a culturally sensitive tool to study the self-reported health (SRH) of the local adult population in Burkina Faso.
The study was carried out in the 2009 rainy season. The sample included 27 men and 25 women aged 18 or older who live in semi-urban Nouna, Burkina Faso. Three culturally adapted instruments were tested: a SRH question, a wooden visual analogue scale (VAS), and a drawn VAS. Respondents were asked to explain their answers to each instrument. The narratives were analyzed with the content analysis technique, and the prevalence of poor SRH was estimated from the quantitative data by stratification for respondent background variables (sex, age, literacy, education, marital status, ethnicity, chronic diseases). The correlation between the instruments was tested with Spearman’s correlation test.
The SRH question showed a 38.5% prevalence of poor SRH and 44.2% prevalence with both VAS. The correlation between the VAS was 0.89, whereas the correlation between the VAS and the SRH question was 0.60–0.64. Nevertheless, the question used as the basis of each instrument was culturally sensitive and clear to all respondents. Analysis of the narratives shows that respondents clearly differentiated between the various health statuses.
In this pilot, we developed and tested a new version of the SRH question that may be more culturally sensitive than its non-adapted equivalents. Additional insight into this population’s understanding and reporting of health was also obtained. A larger sample is needed to further study the validity and reliability of the SRH question and the VAS and understand which instrument is best suited to study SRH in the low-income setting of semi-rural Burkina Faso.
PMCID: PMC3404415  PMID: 22833712
self-reported health; visual analogue scale; Burkina Faso; sensitivity; adaptation
12.  How to diagnose and classify diabetes in primary health care: Lessons learned from the Diabetes Register in Northern Sweden (DiabNorth) 
The objective was to create a diabetes register and to evaluate the validity of the clinical diabetes diagnosis and its classification.
The diabetes register was created by linkage of databases in primary and secondary care, the pharmaceutical database, and ongoing population-based health surveys in the county. Diagnosis and classification were validated by specialists in diabetology or general practitioners with special competence in diabetology. Analysis of autoantibodies associated with type 1 diabetes was used for classification. Setting. Primary and secondary health care in the county of Västerbotten, Sweden.
Patients with diabetes (median age at diagnosis 56 years, inter quartile range 50–60 years) who had participated in the Västerbotten Intervention Programme (VIP) and accepted participation in a diabetes register.
Of all individuals with diabetes in VIP, 70% accepted to participate in the register. The register included 3256 (M/F 1894/1362) diabetes patients. The vast majority (95%) had data confirming the diabetes diagnoses according to WHO recommendations. Unspecified diabetes was the most common (54.6%) classification by the general practitioners. After assessment by specialists and analysis of autoantibodies the majority were classified as type 2 diabetes (76.8%). Type 1 diabetes was the second largest group (7.2%), including a sub-group of patients with latent autoimmune diabetes (4.8%).
It was concluded that it is feasible to create a diabetes register based on information in medical records in general practice. However, special attention should be paid to the validity of the diabetes diagnosis and its classification.
PMCID: PMC3378009  PMID: 22643152
Diabetes; classification; register; primary health care
13.  Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor Patterns and Their Implications for Intervention Strategies in Vietnam 
Background. Data on cardiovascular disease risk factors (CVDRFs) in Vietnam are limited. This study explores the prevalence of each CVDRF and how they cluster to evaluate CVDRF burdens and potential prevention strategies. Methods. A cross-sectional survey in 2009 (2,130 adults) was done to collect data on behavioural CVDRF, anthropometry and blood pressure, lipidaemia profiles, and oral glucose tolerance tests. Four metabolic CVDRFs (hypertension, dyslipidaemia, diabetes, and obesity) and five behavioural CVDRFs (smoking, excessive alcohol intake, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and stress) were analysed to identify their prevalence, cluster patterns, and social predictors. Framingham scores were applied to estimate the global 10-year CVD risks and potential benefits of CVD prevention strategies. Results. The age-standardised prevalence of having at least 2/4 metabolic, 2/5 behavioural, or 4/9 major CVDRF was 28%, 27%, 13% in women and 32%, 62%, 34% in men. Within-individual clustering of metabolic factors was more common among older women and in urban areas. High overall CVD risk (≥20% over 10 years) identified 20% of men and 5% of women—especially at higher ages—who had coexisting CVDRF. Conclusion. Multiple CVDRFs were common in Vietnamese adults with different clustering patterns across sex/age groups. Tackling any single risk factor would not be efficient.
PMCID: PMC3303616  PMID: 22500217
14.  What about healthy participants? The improvement and deterioration of self-reported health at a 10-year follow-up of the Västerbotten Intervention Programme 
Global Health Action  2011;4:10.3402/gha.v4i0.5435.
The Västerbotten Intervention Programme (VIP) addresses cardiovascular disease and diabetes in the middle-aged population of Västerbotten County, Sweden. Self-reported health (SRH) is one of the risk factors for both conditions. The aim of this study was to analyse the development patterns of SRH among the VIP participants.
Cross-sectional data from 1990 to 2007 were used to analyse the prevalence of poor SRH among 101,396 VIP participants aged 40–60 years. Panel data were used to study the change in SRH among 25,695 persons aged 30–60 years, who participated in the VIP twice within a 10-year interval.
Prevalence of poor SRH fluctuated between 1990 and 2007 in Västerbotten County. There was a temporary decline around 2000, with SRH continuously improving thereafter. The majority of panel participants remained in good SRH; over half of those with poor or fair SRH at baseline reported better SRH at follow-up. SRH declined in 19% of the panel participants, mostly among those who had good SRH at the baseline. The decline was common among both women and men, in all educational, age and marital status groups.
The SRH improvement among those with poor and fair SRH at baseline suggests that VIP has been successful in addressing its target population. However, the deterioration of SRH among 21% of the individuals with good SRH at baseline is of concern. From a public health perspective, it is important for health interventions to address not only the risk group but also those with a healthy profile to prevent the negative development among the seemingly healthy participants.
PMCID: PMC3179265  PMID: 21949500
self-reported health; intervention; Västerbotten; Sweden
15.  Changing patterns of tobacco use in a middle-aged population – the role of snus, gender, age, and education 
Global Health Action  2011;4:10.3402/gha.v4i0.5613.
In Sweden, the smoking prevalence has declined. In 2007, it was among the lowest in the industrialized world. A steady increase in the use of Swedish oral moist snuff, snus, has occurred in parallel. This development is neither solicited by authorities nor the medical establishment, but rather has occurred along with increased awareness of the dangers of smoking, and has been promoted by product development and marketing of snus.
To evaluate time trends in patterns of tobacco use in northern Sweden during 1990–2007.
Cross-sectional (99,381 subjects) and longitudinal (26,867 subjects) data from the Västerbotten Intervention Programme (VIP) 1990–2007 were analyzed. All adults in Västerbotten County are invited to a VIP health examination at ages 40, 50, and 60 years, and until 1995 also 30 years. Smoking and use of snus were evaluated by gender, age and educational groups. Intermittent smoking was categorized as smoking.
From the period 1990–1995 to the period 2002–2007, smoking prevalence decreased from 26 to 16% among men and from 27 to 18% among women. The differences in prevalence increased between educational groups. The decline in smoking was less and the increase of snus use was greater among those with basic education. The use of snus among basic-educated 40-year-olds reached 35% among men and 14% among women during 2002–2007. Dual smoking and snus use increased among men and women with basic education. Smoking without snus use was more prevalent among women. Gender differences in total smoking prevalence (smoking only plus dual use) were small in all age groups, but increased among those with basic education reaching 7.3% during 2002–2007, with women being more frequent smokers. Smoking prevalences were similar among never, former and current snus users. Among the 30,000 former smokers, 38% of men and 64% of women had never used snus. Longitudinal data showed a decline in total tobacco use from baseline until follow-up and this was mainly due to a smoking cessation rate of<1% a year. Snus use was started by 6.2% of the 30-year-old women (age at baseline), and this contributed to a stable prevalence of total tobacco use in this group. Seventy percent of baseline snus users still used snus at follow-up. Among smokers, 55% continued smoking, 12% of men and 7% of women switched to snus. Among those with dual tobacco use at baseline, a third of men and a fourth of women remained dual users 10 years later.
There are increasing differences in tobacco use between educational groups. Higher smoking and snus use prevalence are found among those with basic education, and this is most pronounced in the younger group of this middle-aged population. In spite of a higher prevalence of smoking without snus use among women, total smoking prevalence is similar in men and women due to a higher prevalence of dual tobacco use, i.e. snus and cigarettes, among men. The increase in snus use is being paralleled by a slight increase in dual use and the smoking prevalence does not seem to be influenced by snus. This should be the subject of further studies and also have implications for tobacco control policies.
PMCID: PMC3118776  PMID: 21695071
tobacco; prevalence; smoking; smokeless tobacco; Swedish moist snuff; snus; socioeconomic factors/education
16.  Implementing a hypertension management programme in a rural area: local approaches and experiences from Ba-Vi district, Vietnam 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:325.
Costly efforts have been invested to control and prevent cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and their risk factors but the ideal solutions for low resource settings remain unclear. This paper aims at summarising our approaches to implementing a programme on hypertension management in a rural commune of Vietnam.
In a rural commune, a programme has been implemented since 2006 to manage hypertensive people at the commune health station and to deliver health education on CVD risk factors to the entire community. An initial cross-sectional survey was used to screen for hypertensives who might enter the management programme. During 17 months of implementation, other people with hypertension were also followed up and treated. Data were collected from all individual medical records, including demographic factors, behavioural CVD risk factors, blood pressure levels, and number of check-ups. These data were analysed to identify factors relating to adherence to the management programme.
Both top-down and bottom-up approaches were applied to implement a hypertension management programme. The programme was able to run independently at the commune health station after 17 months. During the implementation phase, 497 people were followed up with an overall regular follow-up of 65.6% and a dropout of 14.3%. Severity of hypertension and effectiveness of treatment were the main factors influencing the decision of people to adhere to the management programme, while being female, having several behavioural CVD risk factors or a history of chronic disease were the predictors for deviating from the programme.
Our model showed the feasibility, applicability and future potential of a community-based model of comprehensive hypertension care in a low resource context using both top-down and bottom-up approaches to engage all involved partners. This success also highlighted the important roles of both local authorities and a cardiac care network, led by an outstanding cardiac referral centre.
PMCID: PMC3112133  PMID: 21586119
17.  Reorientation to more health promotion in health services – a study of barriers and possibilities from the perspective of health professionals 
The objective of this study is to analyze the commitment to a more health-promoting health service and to illuminate important barriers for having a health-promoting role in daily practice, among Swedish health care professionals.
Material and method:
Out of a total of 3751 health professionals who are working daytime in clinical practice in the province of Västerbotten, 1810 were invited to participate in a survey. The health professionals represented eight different occupational groups: counselors, dieticians, midwives, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, and physicians. A questionnaire that operationalized perceptions found in a previous qualitative study was mailed to residential addresses of the participants.
The majority believed that health services play a major role in long-term health development in the population and saw a need for health orientation as a strategy to provide more effective health care. Willingness to work more in health promotion and disease prevention was reported significantly more often by women than men, and by primary health care personnel compared to hospital personnel. Among the professional groups, psychologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists most frequently reported willingness. The most common barriers to health promotion roles in daily practice were reported to be heavy workload, lack of guidelines, and unclear objectives.
This study found strong support for reorientation of health services in the incorporation of a greater health promotion. A number of professions that are not usually associated with health promotion practices are knowledgeable and wish to focus more on health promotion and disease prevention. Management has a major role in creating opportunities for these professionals to participate in health promotion practices. Men and physicians reported less positive attitudes to a more health-promoting health service and often possess high positions of power. Therefore, they may play an important role in the process of change toward more health promotion in health services.
PMCID: PMC3024891  PMID: 21289862
health promotion; health care professionals; health service; attitudes; barriers
18.  Mis-reporting, previous health status and health status of family may seriously bias the association between food patterns and disease 
Nutrition Journal  2010;9:48.
Food pattern analyses are popular tools in the study of associations between diet and health. However, there is a need for further evaluation of this methodology. The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to evaluate the relationship between food pattern groups (FPG) and existing health, and to identify factors influencing this relationship.
The inhabitants of Västerbotten County in northern Sweden are invited to health check-ups when they turn 30, 40, 50, and 60 years of age. The present study includes data collected from almost 60,000 individuals between 1992 and 2005. Associations between FPG (established using K-means cluster analyses) and health were analyzed separately in men and women.
The health status of the participants and their close family and reporting accuracy differed significantly between men and women and among FPG. Crude regression analyses, with the high fat FPG as reference, showed increased risks for several health outcomes for all other FPGs in both sexes. However, when limiting analysis to individuals without previous ill-health and with adequate energy intake reports, most of the risks instead showed a trend towards protective effects.
Food pattern classifications reflect both eating habits and other own and family health related factors, a finding important to remember and to adjust for before singling out the diet as a primary cause for present and future health problems. Appropriate exclusions are suggested to avoid biases and attenuated associations in nutrition epidemiology.
PMCID: PMC2988699  PMID: 21034501
19.  Mobilising a disadvantaged community for a cardiovascular intervention: designing PRORIVA in Yogyakarta, Indonesia 
Global Health Action  2010;3:10.3402/gha.v3i0.4661.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a burden for developing countries, yet few CVD intervention studies have been conducted in developing countries such as Indonesia. This paper outlines the process of designing a community intervention programme to reduce CVD risk factors, and discusses experiences with regard to design issues for a small-scale intervention.
Design process
The design process for the present community intervention consisted of six stages: (1) a baseline risk factor survey, (2) design of a small-scale intervention by using both baseline survey and qualitative data, (3) implementation of the small-scale intervention, (4) evaluation of the small-scale intervention and design of a broader CVD intervention in the Yogyakarta municipality, (5) implementation of the broader intervention and (6) evaluation of the broader CVD intervention. According to the baseline survey, 60% of the men were smokers, more than 30% of the population had insufficient fruit and vegetable intake and more than 30% of the population were physically inactive, this is why a small-scale population intervention approach was chosen, guided both by the findings in the quantitative and the qualitative study.
A quasi-experimental study was designed with a control group and pre- and post-testing. In the small-scale intervention, two sub-districts were selected and randomly assigned as intervention and control areas. Within them, six intervention settings (two sub-villages, two schools and two workplaces) and three control settings (a sub-village, a school and a workplace) were selected. Health promotion activities targeting the whole community were implemented in the intervention area. During the evaluation, more activities were performed in the low socioeconomic status sub-village and at the civil workplace.
PMCID: PMC2904588  PMID: 20640246
cardiovascular disease; design intervention; community intervention; urban community; developing countries
20.  ‘Maintaining balance and harmony’: Javanese perceptions of health and cardiovascular disease 
Global Health Action  2010;3:10.3402/gha.v3i0.4660.
Community intervention programmes to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors within urban communities in developing countries are rare. One possible explanation is the difficulty of designing an intervention that corresponds to the local context and culture.
To understand people's perceptions of health and CVD, and how people prevent CVD in an urban setting in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
A qualitative study was performed through focus group discussions and individual research interviews. Participants were selected purposively in terms of socio-economic status (SES), lay people, community leaders and government officers. Data were analysed by using content analysis.
Seven categories were identified: (1) heart disease is dangerous, (2) the cause of heart disease, (3) men have no time for health, (4) women are caretakers for health, (5) different information-seeking patterns, (6) the role of community leaders and (7) patterns of lay people's action. Each category consists of sub-categories according to the SES of participants. The main theme that emerged was one of balance and harmony, indicating the necessity of assuring a balance between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ habits.
The basic concepts of balance and harmony, which differ between low and high SES groups, must be understood when tailoring community interventions to reduce CVD risk factors.
PMCID: PMC2857912  PMID: 20411051
health perception; Javanese philosophy; qualitative content analysis; cardiovascular disease; community intervention
21.  The Västerbotten Intervention Programme: background, design and implications 
Global Health Action  2010;3:10.3402/gha.v3i0.4643.
Background and objective
In Sweden, mortality from cardiovascular diseases (CVD) increased steadily during the 20th century and in the mid-1980s it was highest in the county of Västerbotten. Therefore, a community intervention programme was launched – the Västerbotten Intervention Programme (VIP) – with the aim of reducing morbidity and mortality from CVD and diabetes.
The VIP was first developed in the small municipality of Norsjö in 1985. Subsequently, it was successively implemented across the county and is now integrated into ordinary primary care routines. A population-based strategy directed towards the public is combined with a strategy to reach all middle-aged persons individually at ages 40, 50 and 60 years, by inviting them to participate in systematic risk factor screening and individual counselling about healthy lifestyle habits. Blood samples for research purposes are stored at the Umeå University Medical Biobank.
Overall, 113,203 health examinations have been conducted in the VIP and 6,500–7,000 examinations take place each year. Almost 27,000 subjects have participated twice. Participation rates have ranged between 48 and 67%. A dropout rate analysis in 1998 indicated only a small social selection bias. Cross-sectional, nested case-control studies and prospective studies have been based on the VIP data. Linkages between the VIP and local, regional and national databases provide opportunities for interdisciplinary research, as well as national and international collaborations on a wide range of disease outcomes. A large number of publications are based on data that are collected in the VIP, many of which also use results from analysed stored blood samples. More than 20 PhD theses have been based primarily on the VIP data.
The concept of the VIP, established as a collaboration between politicians and health care providers on the one hand and primary care, functioning as the operating machinery, and the public on the other, forms the basis for effective implementation and endurance over time. After more than 20 years of the VIP, there is a large comprehensive population-based database, a stable organisation to conduct health surveys and collect data, and a solid structure to enable widespread multidisciplinary and scientific collaborations.
PMCID: PMC2844807  PMID: 20339479
prevention; community intervention; cardiovascular diseases; primary health care; health promotion; research methodology
22.  Weight maintenance as a tight rope walk - a Grounded Theory study 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:51.
Overweight and obesity are considerable public health problems internationally as well as in Sweden. The long-term results of obesity treatment are modest as reported by other studies. The importance of extending the focus to not only comprise obesity treatment but also prevention of weight gain is therefore being emphasized. However, despite the suggested change in focus there is still no consensus on how to prevent obesity or maintain weight. This study reports findings from a qualitative study focusing on attitudes, behaviors and strategies important for primary weight maintenance in a middle-aged population.
In depth interviews were conducted with 23 maintainers and four slight gainers in Sweden. The interviews were transcribed and an analysis of weight maintenance was performed using Grounded Theory.
Based on the informants' stories, describing attitudes, behaviors and strategies of importance for primary weight maintenance, a model illustrating the main findings, was constructed. Weight maintenance was seen as "a tightrope walk" and four strategies of significance for this "tightrope walk" were described as "to rely on heritage", "to find the joy", "to find the routine" and "to be in control". Eleven "ideal types" were included in the model to illustrate different ways of relating to the main strategies. These "ideal types" described more specific attitudes and behaviors such as; eating food that is both tasteful and nutritious, and choosing exercise that provides joy. However, other somewhat contradictory behaviors were also found such as; only eating nutritious food regardless of taste, and being physically active to control stress and emotions.
This study show great variety with regards to attitudes, strategies and behaviors important for weight maintenance, and considerations need to be taken before putting the model into practice. However, the results from this study can be used within primary health care by enhancing the understanding of how people differ in their relation to food and physical activity. It informs health personnel about the need to differentiate advices related to body weight, not only to different sub-groups of individuals aiming at losing weight but also to sub-groups of primary weight maintainers aiming at maintaining weight.
PMCID: PMC2835685  PMID: 20122140
23.  “If we only got a chance.” Barriers to and possibilities for a more health-promoting health service 
With the overall objective to develop future strategies for a more health-promoting health service in Sweden, the aim of this paper was to describe how health personnel view barriers and possibilities for having a health-promoting role in practice.
Materials and methods:
Seven focus group discussions were carried out with a total of 34 informants from both hospital and primary health care settings in Sweden. The informants represented seven professional groups; counselors, occupational therapists, assistant nurses, midwives, nurses, physicians, and physiotherapists. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
The analysis resulted in one major theme “If we only got a chance”. The theme captures the health professionals’ positive view about, and their willingness to, develop a health-promoting and/or preventive role, while at the same time feeling limited by existing values, structures, and resources. The four categories, “organizational commitment to a paradigm shift”, “recognition of staff as health-promoting instruments”, “a balance between resources and tasks”, and “freedom of action” capture what is needed for implementing and increasing health promotion and preventive efforts in the health services.
The study indicates that an organizational setting that support health promotion is still to be developed. There is a need for a more explicit leadership with a clear direction towards the goal of “a more health–promoting health service” and with enough resources for achieving this goal.
PMCID: PMC3004593  PMID: 21197350
qualitative methods; health promotion; health care professionals; health service; perceptions
24.  "It depends on what you mean": a qualitative study of Swedish health professionals' views on health and health promotion 
The role of health services must be re-oriented towards health promotion to more effectively contribute to population health. One of the objectives of the Swedish public health policy is that health promotion and disease prevention should be an integral part of the health care system and an important component of all care and treatment. However, the uncertainty about what the concepts of health and health promotion mean poses a challenge for implementation. Depending on how these concepts are interpreted, the attitudes of health professionals toward health promoting practices will differ. Thus, a more in-depth understanding of health professionals' views can be a starting point for a discussion about the values and attitudes that influence the current health care system and about the barriers and possibilities for future development of a health promoting health service.
Seven focus group discussions (n = 34) were carried out with health professionals, from different health care settings, to understand how they communicate about health and health promotion. The data were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
The analysis of health professional's general understanding of the concept of health resulted in the category; a multi-facetted concept, whilst the category; a subjective assessment describes what health means to themselves. A third category; health is about life, the whole life. describes their understanding of health as an outcome of a multiplicity of contextually dependent determinants.
The health professional's multiple ways of associating health promotion to disease prevention suggest a concept that is diffuse, elusive and difficult to apply in practice. Despite a shared view of health, the health professionals described their health promotion role very differently depending partly on how the concept of health promotion was interpreted. The analysis resulted in the development of three ideal types, labelled the demarcater, the integrater and the promoter describing different strategies for handling a health promotion role in practice
The study suggests that different interpretations of what constitutes health promotion can lead to unnecessary misunderstandings and pose barriers to further development of a health promoting practice.
PMCID: PMC2770468  PMID: 19845948
25.  Stroke and plasma markers of milk fat intake – a prospective nested case-control study 
Nutrition Journal  2009;8:21.
Dairy products are high in saturated fat and are traditionally a risk factor for vascular diseases. The fatty acids 15:0 and 17:0 of plasma lipids are biomarkers of milk fat intake. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the risk of a first-ever stroke in relation to the plasma milk fat biomarkers.
A prospective case-control study was nested within two population based health surveys in Northern Sweden. Among 129 stroke cases and 257 matched controls, plasma samples for fatty acid analyses were available in 108 cases and 216 control subjects. Proportions of 15:0 and 17:0 of plasma lipids, weight, height, blood lipids, blood pressures, and lifestyle data were employed in conditional logistic regression modelling.
The proportions of fatty acids 17:0 and 15:0+17:0 of total plasma phospholipids were significantly higher in female controls than cases, but not in men. 17:0 and 15:0+17:0 were significantly and inversely related to stroke in the whole study sample as well as in women. The standardised odds ratio (95% CI) in women to have a stroke was 0.41 (0.24–0.69) for 17:0 in plasma phospholipids. Adjustment for traditional cardiovascular risk factors, physical activity and diet had marginal effects on the odds ratios. A similar, but non-significant, trend was seen in men.
It is hypothesised that dairy or milk fat intake may be inversely related to the risk of a first event of stroke. The intriguing results of this study should be interpreted with caution. Follow up studies with greater power, and where intakes are monitored both by dietary recordings and fatty acid markers are needed.
PMCID: PMC2689251  PMID: 19457271

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