Non-participation in a targeted prevention program aimed at lifestyle-related diseases: a questionnaire-based assessment of patient-reported reasons

Christian Leick*, Lars Bruun Larsen, Anders Larrabee Sonderlund, Nanna Herning Svensson, Jens Sondergaard, Trine Thilsing

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Background: Having an unhealthy lifestyle is associated with a higher risk of developing lifestyle-related diseases. Current evidence suggests that interventions targeting health-risk behaviors can help people improve their lifestyles and prevent lifestyle-related diseases. However, preventive programs are often challenged by low participation rates. Reasons for non-participation include lack of time and/or interest, and/or no perceived need for lifestyle intervention. This study explores causes for non-participation in a sample of people who chose not to take up a targeted preventive program (TOF pilot2 study). Patient-reported reasons as well as sociodemographic characteristics and lifestyle factors are in focus. Methods: A total of 4633 patients from four Danish GP clinics received an invitation to take part in the TOF pilot2 study. Patients who chose not to participate in the TOF pilot2 study were asked to fill in a questionnaire concerning reasons for non-participation, lifestyle, BMI and self-rated health. Descriptive analyses were used to summarize the results. Results: A total of 2462 patients (53.1%) chose not to participate in the TOF pilot2 study. Among these, 84 (3.4%) answered the full questionnaire on reasons for not participating, lifestyle, BMI and self-rated health. The most common reasons for non-participation were lack of time, having an already healthy lifestyle, and feeling healthy. Based on their self-reported lifestyle 45 (53.6%) of the non-participants had one or more health-risk behaviors including smoking, unhealthy diet, BMI ≥ 35 and/or sedentary lifestyle and were therefore eligible to receive the targeted intervention at the GP or the MHC in the original TOF pilot2 study. Conclusion: When planning future preventive programs it is important to know the main reasons for patients to not participate. This study provides rare insight into why people opt out of health interventions and advances the evidence base in this area. Our results may inform efforts to better involve these patients in preventive health programs. Trial registration: Trial registration number: NCT02797392.

Original languageEnglish
Article number970
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Disease prevention
  • Health check intervention
  • Lifestyle
  • Lifestyle-related diseases
  • Non-participation
  • Non-response
  • Preventive program
  • Primary care
  • Risk perception


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