Connecting primary care patients to community-based physical activity: a qualitative study of health professional and patient views

Sharon A Carstairs, Rayna Hilary Rogowsky, Kathryn Burns Cunningham, Frank Sullivan, Gozde Ozakinci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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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 jogs cotland.

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.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalBJGP Open
VolumeLatest Articles
Early online date21 Jul 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jul 2020


  • Physical activity
  • Health promotion
  • Social prescribing
  • Primary health care
  • Consultation
  • Motivation


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