Prescribing Physical Activity in Parks and Nature: Health Care Provider Insights on Park Prescription Programs

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background: Health care providers (HCPs) promoting physical activity (PA) through programs such as Park Prescriptions (ParkRx) are gaining momentum. However, it is difficult to realize provider PA practices and program interest, and differences in program success exist by provider type (eg, primary vs secondary). This study explored HCPs’ (1) PA counseling practices, (2) knowledge/interest in ParkRx, (3) barriers and resources needed to implement PA counseling and ParkRx programs, and (4) differences in primary versus secondary HCPs. Methods: An e-survey administered in Spring/Summer 2018 to HCPs in 3 states examined study objectives. Results: Respondents (n = 278) were mostly primary (58.3%) HCPs. The majority asked about patient PA habits and offered PA counseling (mean = 5.0, SD = 1.5; mean = 4.8, SD = 1.5), but few provided written prescriptions (mean = 2.5, SD = 1.6). Providers were satisfied with their PA counseling knowledge (mean = 3.8, SD = 1.0) but not with prescribing practices (mean = 3.2, SD = 1.1). Secondary HCPs placed higher importance (P = .012) and provided significantly more written PA prescriptions (P = .005). Time was a common barrier to prescribing PA (mean = 3.4, SD = 1.2), though more so for primary HCPs (P = .000). Although few HCPs knew about ParkRx programs, 81.6% expressed interest. Access to park information and community partnerships was an important resource for program implementation. Conclusions: HCPs underutilize PA prescriptions. Despite little awareness, HCPs were interested in ParkRx programs.

Besenyi and Hayashi are with the Department of Kinesiology, College of Health and Human Sciences, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA. Christiana is with the Department of Health and Exercise Science, Beaver College of Health Sciences, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA.

Besenyi (gbesenyi@ksu.edu) is corresponding author.

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