Physical activity promotion in primary care: Health professional and patient views on connecting primary care patients with community-based physical activity opportunities

Sharon Ann Carstairs (Lead / Corresponding author), Rayna H. Rogowsky, Kathryn B. Cunningham, Frank Sullivan, Gozde Ozakinci

Research output: Working paper/PreprintPreprint

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Background: Inconclusive evidence in support of referrals from health professionals to gym-based exercise programmes has raised a concern for the roll-out of such schemes and highlights the importance of developing and maintaining links between primary care settings and community-based opportunities to improve physical activity levels. This study aimed to identify methods of connecting primary care patients to community-based physical activity opportunities, using the example of jog scotland, and to explore what factors can facilitate this connection.

Methods: We conducted a qualitative exploratory study utilising semi-structured interviews with primary care patients (n=14) and health professionals (HP) (n=14) from one UK National Health Service (NHS) board. We analysed the transcripts separately for patients and HPs using thematic analysis and synthesised them for potential methods of connection. Sub-themes for patients and HPs were mapped onto relevant components of the capability, opportunity, motivation behavioural (COM-B) model and theoretical domains framework (TDF) to identify barriers and facilitators for connecting primary care to community jog scotland groups.

Results: Three potential methods of connecting patients to community-based jog scotland groups were identified: informal passive signposting, informal active signposting, and formal referral or prescribing. Barriers and facilitators to connecting patients to jog scotland groups fell into five TDF domains for HPs and two COM-B model components for patients.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that for patients, the acknowledgement and raising of the topic of physical activity improvement by their HP can help to justify as well as facilitate and motivate action to change. The workload associated with connecting patients to community-based opportunities is central to the implementation by HPs. Resource solutions (e.g. intermediary person or community information hub) and social support opportunities for patients (e.g. meet and greet) can provide patients with a greater variety of physical activity options and the vital information and support for connecting with local community-based opportunities, such as jog scotland .
Original languageEnglish
PublisherResearch Square
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2020


  • community
  • exercise referral
  • health promotion
  • Physical activity
  • primary care
  • signposting
  • social prescribing


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