Patients want their doctors’ help to increase physical activity: a cross sectional study in general practice
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionScandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care. 2021, 39 (2), 131-138. 10.1080/02813432.2021.1910670
Background Inactivity is prevalent in patients presenting in general practice, and the health benefits of increased physical activity (PA) are well known. Few studies have explored whether patients want their general practitioner’s (GPs) contribution in facilitating a lifestyle change. Objective To identify the characteristics of patients who expect help from their doctor in increasing levels of PA. Design We collected data via questionnaires for this cross-sectional study from general practices. Setting General practices in Norway, during Spring 2019. Subjects A total of 2104 consecutive patients (response rate 75%) participated. Main outcome measures The questionnaire included questions about self-rated health, level of physical activity, the desire to become more physically active, and questions about the role of the GP in increasing the level of physical activity in their patients. We analysed our data using Pearson chi-square and binary logistic regression. Results Female patients were less active, but their motivation to increase activity and their expectations of receiving help from their doctor were similar to males. Younger patients were more motivated for increased activity, and to manage without help from their doctors. Impaired self-rated health (SRH) was associated with inactivity and, at the same time, with the motivation to become more active with help from general practitioners. Conclusion Most patients in the GPs’ office are physically inactive. This study revealed an important message for GPs: in clinical work, emphasise physical activity for health gains, especially for patients with impaired SRH.