Stress-management counseling was identified in a recent study as the least common type of counseling provided by primary-care clinicians.

In a letter published online ahead of print by Archives of Internal Medicine, Aditi Nerurkar, MD, MPH, and colleagues noted that 60% to 80% of primary-care visits may have a stress-related component. The investigators described the results of what they believe is the first study to examine factors associated with the provision of stress-management counseling by primary-care clinicians using a nationally representative sample. 

The researchers obtained data from 2006 through 2009. They sought evidence of clinicians who pro­vided such stress-management help as engaging in counseling during the office visit; offering information to help patients reduce stress through exercise, biofeedback, yoga, or other means; or referring the patient to other health professionals for the purpose of coping with stress.

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Only 3% of office visits included stress-management counseling. This was the least common type of counseling provided, compared with nutrition counseling (included in 16.8% of office visits), physical-activity counseling (12.3%), weight-reduction counseling (6.3%), and tobacco-cessation counseling (3.7%).