A randomized controlled trial of a public health nurse directed treatment program for rural patients with high blood cholesterol.Prev Med 2003; 36(3):340-51PM
Many rural residents do not have access to high-quality nutrition counseling for high blood cholesterol. The objective of this study was to assess the effectiveness of an intervention program designed to facilitate dietary counseling for hypercholesterolemia by rural public health nurses.
Eight health departments (216 participants) were randomized to give the special intervention (SI) and nine (252 participants) to give the minimal intervention (MI). The SI consisted of three individual diet counseling sessions given by a public health nurse, using a structured dietary intervention (Food for Heart Program), referral to a nutritionist if lipid goals were not achieved at 3-month follow-up, and a reinforcement phone call and newsletters. Diet was assessed by the Dietary Risk Assessment (DRA), a validated food frequency questionnaire, at baseline, 3-, and 12-month follow-up; blood lipids and weight were assessed at baseline, 3-, 6-, and 12-month follow-up.
Participants were largely female (71%), older (mean age 55), and white (80%). At 3-month follow-up, the average reduction (indicating dietary improvement) in total Dietary Risk Assessment score was 3.7 units greater in the SI group (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.9 to 5.5, P = 0.0006), while both groups experienced a similar reduction in blood cholesterol, 14.1 mg/dL (0.37 mmol/L) for SI and 14.5 mg/dL (0.38 mmol/L) for minimal intervention group (difference -0.4 mg/dL [-0.010 mmol/L], 95% CI -12.5 to 11.7 [-0.32 to 0.30], P = 0.9). At 12-month follow-up, the reduction in total Dietary Risk Assessment score was 2.1 units greater in the SI group (95% CI 0.8 to 3.5, P = 0.005), while the reduction in blood cholesterol was similar in both groups, 18.4 mg/dL (0.48 mmol/L) for SI and 15.6 mg/dL (0.40 mmol/L) for minimal intervention group (difference 2.8 mg/dL [0.07 mmol/L], 95% CI -7.5 to 13.1 [-0.19 to 0.34], P = 0.6). During follow-up, weight loss was greater in the SI group; the difference between groups was statistically significant at 3 (1.9 lb [0.86 kg], 95% CI 0.3 to 3.4 [0.14 to 1.55], P = 0.022) and 6 months (2.1 lb [0.95 kg], 95% CI 0.1 to 4.1 [0.04 to 1.86], P = 0.04). At 12 months, the difference was not significant (1.6 lb [0.73 kg], 95% CI -0.05 to 3.7 [-0.02 to 1.68], P = 0.13).
Improvement in self-reported dietary intake was significantly greater in the SI group, while reduction in blood cholesterol was similar in both groups.