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Joining the conversation about healthy lifestyles

Almost nine out of 10 allied health professionals (AHPs) agree that their role should include an element of preventing ill health, according to a report published by the Royal Society for Public Health and Public Health England on 13 March.

'Healthy Conversations and the Allied Health Professionals' reveals the extent to which the 170,000 AHPs in England are willing to engage in conversations about healthy lifestyles with their patients.

Based on a survey of more than 1,000 AHPs, the report says three-quarters agree that their role provides opportunities for healthy conversations. The report also highlights the public’s willingness to have these conversations – almost nine out of 10 members of the public would trust lifestyle health advice from AHPs.

The report recommends that AHPs should receive training and support during undergraduate training and as part of ongoing professional development to enable them to have these healthy conversations.

Royal Society for Public Health recommendations

  • For universities: ensure pre-registration training includes optional modules on topics around having healthy conversations and lifestyle health advice.
  • For professional bodies: ensure standards for curriculum include an element on public health and having healthy conversations and to provide their members with accessible and timely information on public health topics.
  • Guidance for local authorities to ensure their online information is reliable and up to date so AHPs can signpost clients to websites with confidence.
  • Explore whether AHPs could directly refer patients and clients to services rather than having to go through their GP.
  • Further evaluation of healthy conversations and the extent to which the public are signposted to services by AHPs.

What are your views on the role of SLTs and public health? Does your role already include an element of preventing ill health? Email Peter Just and let us know.