BACKGROUND: Inconclusive evidence supporting referrals from health professionals to gym-based exercise programmes has raised concern for the roll-out of such schemes, and highlights the importance of developing links between healthcare settings and community-based opportunities to improve physical activity (PA) levels.
AIM: This study aimed to identify methods, and explore barriers and facilitators, of connecting primary care patients with PA opportunities from the perspectives of both health professionals (HPs) and patients, using the example of jogscotland.
DESIGN & SETTING: An exploratory study utilising semi-structured interviews with primary care patients (n = 14) and HPs (n = 14) from one UK NHS board was conducted.
METHOD: Patient and HP transcripts were analysed separately using thematic analysis. Potential methods of connection were identified. The Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, behavioural (COM-B) model and theoretical domains framework (TDF) were employed to facilitate identification of barriers and facilitators for connecting primary care to community jogscotland groups.
RESULTS: Three methods of connecting patients to community-based groups were identified: informal passive signposting, informal active signposting, and formal referral or prescribing. Barriers and facilitators for patient connection fell into five TDF domains for HPs and two COM-B model components for patients.
CONCLUSION: For patients, HPs raising the topic of PA can help to justify, facilitate, and motivate action to change. The workload associated with connecting patients with community-based opportunities is central to implementation by HPs. Integrative resource solutions and social support for patients can provide a greater variety of PA options and the vital information and support for connecting with local opportunities, such as jogscotland.