Evaluating the Population Health Impact of Physical Activity Interventions in Primary Care—Are We Asking the Right Questions?

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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This article evaluates the extent to which the literature on primary care-based physical activity interventions informs the translation of research into practice and identifies priorities for future research.


Relevant databases were searched for: (1) descriptive studies of physician barriers to physical activity counseling (n = 8), and (2) reviews of the literature on primary care-based physical activity intervention studies (n = 9). The RE-AIM framework was used to guide the evaluation.


Lack of time, limited patient receptiveness, lack of remuneration, and limited counseling skills are the predominant barriers to physical activity counselling. Issues of internal validity (i.e., effectiveness and implementation) have received much more attention in the literature than have issues of external validity (i.e., reach and adoption).


The research agenda for primary care-based physical activity interventions needs greater attention to the feasibility of adoption by busy primary care staff, generalizability, and dissemination.

Eakin is with the Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Queensland Cancer Fund and Centre for Health Research, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD 4001, Australia. Smith is with the School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. Bauman is with the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

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