Self-Reported Adherence: A Method for Evaluating Prescribed Physical Activity in Primary Health Care Patients

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Physical activity on prescription, as a method for increasing physical activity, has attracted attention in recent years. However, few studies have examined adherence as a primary outcome variable. The aim of this article was to examine self-reported adherence to individualized prescribed physical activity in a routine primary health care setting.


Patients receiving an individualized physical activity on prescription (FaR) for prevention or treatment of disease were recruited from 13 Swedish primary health care units. Self-reported adherence, physical activity level, readiness to change to a more physically active lifestyle, and well-being were measured with questions at baseline and after 6 months in 240 patients (mean age 51, range 12 to 80, 75% women).


At the 6-month follow-up a majority (65%) of the patients reported adherence to the prescription. Partial adherence was reported by 19% and nonadherence by 16%. There was a relationship between adherence and well-being and stages of action or maintenance.


The results demonstrate that adherence to physical activity on prescription is as good as adherence to other treatments for chronic diseases. This is significant because even a small increase in physical activity is important both on an individual level and for public health.

Kallings and Ståhle are with the Dept of Neurobiology, Health Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institute, Huddinge, Sweden. Leijon is with the Dept of Medical and Health Sciences, Social Medicine and Public Health Science, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden. Kowalski is with Biostatistics, Stockholm, Sweden. Hellénius is with the Dept of Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.