Objectives: To determine the prevalence of physical activity advice, including the Green Prescription (a physical activity scripting scheme), given in the primary care setting, and the characteristics of New Zealanders who receive such advice.
Method: Questions from a 2003 national postal survey (n = 8,291), 'Obstacles to Action', were examined. The survey was designed to identify population segments to target for physical activity interventions. Binary logistic regression was used to examine independent factors associated with receiving a physician or practice nurse recommendation to increase physical activity and receiving a Green Prescription.
Results: Overall, 13.3% of the sample reported receiving physical activity advice while 3.0% reported receiving a Green Prescription from their general practitioner or practice nurse in the last year. Those more likely to receive physical activity advice were Maori or Pacific, overweight or obese, sedentary, or suffering chronic disease. Results were similar for Green Prescription advice. When controlling for these and other demographics, physical inactivity was not related to the odds of receiving a Green Prescription.
Conclusions: One out of every eight New Zealanders reported being given general physical activity advice in the primary care setting. While the physically inactive but otherwise healthy were not specifically targeted, the Green Prescription was more likely to be given on the basis of existing chronic conditions related to physical inactivity and other high-risk populations.
Implications: Primary care settings provide an important opportunity to promote physical activity for New Zealand adults. While those most at risk are more likely to receive such advice, there are many more that may benefit.