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Primary care knowledge and beliefs about physical activity and health: a survey of primary healthcare team members

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journal contribution
posted on 25.08.2017, 08:39 by Patrick WheelerPatrick Wheeler, Ralph Mitchell, Melvinder Ghaly, Kim Buxton
Background: Physical activity has numerous health benefits and the primary healthcare team are ideally suited to promote activity. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has announced physical activity to be a clinical priority in the next few years. However little attention is given to this in medical training, with unclear levels of knowledge and confidence. Aim: To explore the primary healthcare team knowledge of the benefits of physical activity in preventing and treating ill health. Design & setting: Questionnaire-based study, from six East Midlands sites in the UK. Method: Self-completed anonymised questionnaire. Results: Three hundred and two results were obtained in total, from 166 GPs, 65 GP registrars, and 71 practice nurses. There was a mean age of 44.8 years (range 22–71), with 62% female responders. Fifty-five per cent of responders underestimated UK recommended activity guidance. Responders considered activity promotion as part of their professional role, but this was discussed about one-third as often as other health promotion behaviours, such as weight or smoking. Barriers reported were lack of time (91.2%) and resources (36.8%). Conclusion: This study has shown reasonable knowledge of recommended levels of activity and accrued health, but most underestimated UK guidance, suggest inadequate levels of activity for optimal health may be being recommended. Confidence in this area is lower in GP registrars than GPs which may mirror other health problems. There was a poor recognition of simple tools to assess the level of physical activity, and low levels of onward signposting or recommendations. If physical activity is to be a clinical priority area of the RCGP, then further opportunities for professional development may be required.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

British Journal of General Practice Open


WHEELER, P.C. ... et al, 2017. Primary care knowledge and beliefs about physical activity and health: a survey of primary healthcare team members. British Journal of General Practice Open, 1 (2), BJGP-2017-0809.


Royal College of General Practitioners © BJGP Open


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal BJGP Open and is also available at http://dx.doi.org/10.3399/bjgpopen17X100809.