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Environmental Scan - Health Risk Appraisals in Primary Care

Introduction: The Use of Health Risk Appraisals in Primary Care

Final report of environmental scan and expert panel meeting to learn more about how health risk assessments are being used in primary care and to identify the research gaps related to HA utilization and outcomes.


"Motivating and maintaining health behavior change is critical to improving the nation's health and controlling health care costs. Health behavior research has shown that helping people identify risks to their health can facilitate the process of healthy change. This is the goal of many Health Risk Appraisals (HAs). Some HAs go beyond simple assessment and target key risks for change" (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2009).

Most HA use thus far has been in workplace settings. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) is interested in understanding the use of HA information in patient care. A one year task order project to study this issue was awarded in July 2008 to Econometrica, Inc. and PIRE.  This project is intended to inform the ongoing planning and decisionmaking process for research and programming at AHRQ.

This final report incorporates the findings of the two major tasks of the study, an environmental scan and an Expert Panel meeting. The purpose of the scan was to review the current level of knowledge about the use of HAs in primary and chronic care settings and the effects of HA use on care delivery and health outcomes. The purpose of the Panel meeting was to bring together experts in the field to discuss the key research questions, review the scan results, inform the work of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and recommend future directions for AHRQ research activities.

The study topics included in this report are:

  • How HAs are currently being used in primary care settings.
  • How HAs might be used more effectively to improve the delivery of preventive services in primary care settings.
  • How information derived from the use of HAs in other settings, such as worksite health promotion programs is, or is not, shared with primary care providers.
  • How HAs are being used (in any setting) to provide care to individuals that integrates preventive services and care management for chronic conditions.
  • Strategies that might improve the delivery and coordination of clinical preventive services when HAs are used, regardless of setting.
  • Gaps in knowledge and evidence regarding the use of HAs, and how HAs affect the delivery of effective preventive and care management services.

This report presents overall findings, highlights gaps in research and practice, and identifies next steps for AHRQ.

Return to Contents 

Organization of this Report

The methodology used for key project tasks is presented, followed by findings organized by the six research topics.  The order by topic is:

  • Key Research Topic.
  • Environmental Scan Summary.
  • Expert Panel Meeting Summary.
  • Conclusions.

An overall analysis and summary follows the topic summaries.  The report ends with conclusions and recommendations to AHRQ.

Lists of references and literature reviewed are appended to the report.

Page last reviewed August 2010
Internet Citation: Environmental Scan - Health Risk Appraisals in Primary Care: Introduction: The Use of Health Risk Appraisals in Primary Care. August 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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