Patients’ Perspectives about Lifestyle Behaviors and Health in the Context of Family Medicine: A Cross-Sectional Study in Portugal

Rosália Páscoa

Keywords: lifestyle; family doctor; behavior; chronic/non-communicable diseases


Lifestyle interventions are recognized as essential in the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases. Previous studies have shown that Portuguese patients tend to give more importance to diagnostic and laboratory tests than to lifestyle measures, and seem unaware that behavioral risks are the main modifiable risk factors. The study aimed to analyze patients’ perspectives about lifestyle behaviors and health in the context of family medicine in Portugal.


A population-based cross-sectional study was carried out in Portugal (the mainland). A total of 900 Portuguese patients aged ≥20 years, representative of the population, were surveyed using face-to-face questionnaires. Participants were selected by the random route method. Descriptive statistics and non-parametric tests were performed to evaluate differences between the personal beliefs and the personal behavior self-assessment, as well as between the level of importance given to the family doctor to address health behaviors and the reported approach implemented by the family doctor, and its association with bio-demographic variables.


The results indicate that the vast majority of this Portuguese cohort has informed beliefs regarding lifestyle behaviors, tends to overestimate
their own behavior self-assessment, and strongly agrees that it is important that their family doctor asks/advises on these lifestyle behaviors, although the proportion of those who totally agree that their family doctor usually does this is significantly lower. Differences concerning bio-demographic
variables were found.


Future research directions should focus on the politics, economics, and policy aspects that may have an impact in this area. It will also be important to understand more broadly the relationships between lifestyle behaviors and clinical, physical, and sociodemographic variables.

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