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Keywords:

  • Physical activity;
  • primary care;
  • health behaviour;
  • primary prevention;
  • walking

Abstract

Objective: To ascertain the extent to which general practitioners in Queensland recommend physical activity to their patients, the types of patients they target, types of activities they suggest and how patients respond to the recommendations.

Methods: Questions designed to answer the research objectives were included in the Queensland Social Survey. Univariate, bivariate and logistic regression analyses were employed linking relevant variables with demographic data from the survey.

Results: The survey was completed by 1,261 (35.2%) people. In the previous year, 225 (18%) of them were recommended by a general practitioner to do more physical activity. These people were more likely to have a higher body mass index and rate their general health as fair or poor. Walking was the most common activity recommended (75%). Only 18% of people were not pleased to be recommended to take more exercise and most (67%) reported following the advice. Blue-collar workers and older people were less likely to follow the recommendations.

Conclusions: General practitioners in Queensland are recommending increased physical activity to patients with weight problems and with medical problems. Patients are usually pleased to receive the advice and act upon it.

Implications: General practitioners should be aware that physical activity recommendations are received favourably by most patients and there is potential to improve public health by giving physical activity advice to sedentary and/or overweight patients when appropriate.