The Labrador Voice

‘Improve your health’

New study ongoing at Labrador Health Centre looks to help area residents focus on personal health goals

- BYDANETTE DOOLEY

Are you between 40 and 65 years of age?

Would you like to help health profession­als screen for and perhaps prevent chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease?

If you’ve answered ‘ yes’ to these questions Dr. Margo Wilson at the Labrador Health Centre would like you to consider participat­ing in a study that will not only assist researcher­s but will give patients more informatio­n to improve their health.

Wilson is a general practition­er at the Labrador Health Centre.

She is overseeing the project in the Happy-Valley Goose Bay area — one of three sites in this province participat­ing in the multi-million dollar, multiprovi­nce chronic disease prevention and screening study.

The study is called BETTER (Building on Existing Tools to Improve Chronic Disease Prevention in Family Practice).

The goal of the project is to provide patients with extra clinic time where they can focus on their health needs.

“This is a good opportunit­y to have a visit with a health profession­al and come up your own health goals,” Wilson said.

Those interested in the project will complete a questionna­ire about their health and then have a one-on-one visit with a prevention practition­er to discuss the participan­t’s health and set prevention goals.

A prevention practition­er is a person trained to talk to patients about improving their health through prevention and screening.

Loriann Lyall, a licensed practical nurse at Labrador Health Centre, is the prevention practition­er looking after the project in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Lyall is working closely with Wilson. Other study sites in this province are St. John’s and St. Mary’s/Mount Carmel.

“This (project) gives people more knowledge about themselves, it’s an opportunit­y for them to get more involved in their health care,” Wilson says.

Dr. Kris Aubrey, a St. John’s-based physician, is coordinati­ng the project.

He is a researcher in Memorial University’s Primary Healthcare Unit.

The unit falls under the umbrella of Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine.

In Labrador, he says, the visits will take place at the outpatient clinic at the Labrador Health Centre and should take an hour or less.

“Anyone who has any difficulty reading the questionna­ire can go over it with the prevention practition­er. Once it’s completed they go through the results with the prevention practition­er.”

The health profession­al will then determine if the patient needs cancer screening tests or interventi­ons like changing their diet, changing their physical activity and stopping smoking.

Blood pressure checks and blood work may also be involved, Aubrey says.

“We’ll come up with all the eligible things they can get done based on their age, based on their family history as all that comes out in the prevention survey.”

The survey isn’t overbearin­g in any way, Aubrey says, rather is an opportunit­y to share in the decision-making concerning your health.

The project is funded by Health Canada, through the Canadian Partnershi­p Against Cancer.

Donna Manca of the University of Alberta and Eva Grunfeld of the University of Toronto are leading the project, Aubrey says.

There are also many other people involved at different sites across the country, he says.

“Physicians are so busy with acute care that, by and large, we don’t have enough time to do appropriat­e preven- tative care. And that’s where we can really save lives, save the health system money and save people from developing a significan­t amount of diseases that are impacting our lives,” Aubrey says.

Because physicians are so busy, bringing other health care profession- als into the mix in conducting such studies is important, Aubrey says.

Anyone who would like more informatio­n about the project can contact Loriann Lyall at (709) 897-2174. Informatio­n is also available online at www.betterproj­ect.ca

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