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“You’ve Got to Pick Your Battles”: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Physical Activity Counselling and Referral within General Practice

Buckley, BJR, Finnie, SJ, Murphy, RC and Watson, PM (2020) “You’ve Got to Pick Your Battles”: A Mixed-Methods Investigation of Physical Activity Counselling and Referral within General Practice. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (20). ISSN 1660-4601

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17207428 (Published version)


One in four people say they would be more active if advised by a general practitioner (GP), yet 72% of GPs do not discuss physical activity (PA) with patients and 80% of GPs are unaware of the PA guidelines. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate GP perspectives on PA counselling and referral and interpret these within the context of the socio-ecological model (SEM). Fifty-six GPs completed an online survey to investigate factors influencing PA counselling and referral. Semi-structured interviews were then conducted with seven GPs to explore topics in more depth. Interview data were analysed thematically and mapped to the SEM. GPs were more likely to discuss PA with patients if they were physically active themselves (p = 0.004). Influences on PA counselling and referral were identified at the policy (provision of education, priority), organisational (feedback, e-referral), interpersonal (PA as everybody’s business, patient factors) and intrapersonal (knowledge, GP PA levels) levels of the SEM. Multi-level strategies are required to help GPs promote PA and make use of exercise referral schemes, including making PA a strategic priority, introducing systems for feedback from referrals, and involving other members of the care team in PA counselling and referral.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
Publisher: MDPI AG
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2020 08:16
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 06:32
DOI or ID number: 10.3390/ijerph17207428
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13839
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