Physician Communication and Physical Activity Among Latinas

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Research suggests that individuals who talk with their physicians about lifestyle behaviors are more physically active. Research on this topic is limited in the U.S. Latino population. This study examines doctor-patient communication from the perspective of enrollees in a physical activity (PA) intervention.


Three hundred and eighty-seven Latinos were surveyed at program enrollment. Analysis examined the extent to which physician communication about healthy lifestyles and weight was associated with self-reported PA, including leisure-time PA (LTPA), transportation PA (TPA), and occupational PA (OPA). Physician communication included asking, advising, and assisting.


Most of the respondents reported no LTPA (46%) and no TPA (60%). The percent reporting no occupational activity, which included housework if a homemaker, was lower at 36%. Greater physician assistance was associated with a greater likelihood of doing any LTPA (P ≤ .05). A similar trend was observed for TPA (P ≤ .10).


Latinos who reported physician assistance to engage in healthy lifestyle behaviors reported more LTPA. Providers who assist their patients in obtaining resources to support PA have the potential to increase levels of PA.

Reilly is with the Dept of Public Health Sciences, University of California, Davis. Ayala and Elder are with the Graduate School of Public Health, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA. Patrick is with the Dept of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego.