Self-reported adherence: a method for evaluating prescribed physical activity in primary health care patients

J Phys Act Health. 2009 Jul;6(4):483-92. doi: 10.1123/jpah.6.4.483.


Background: 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.

Methods: 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).

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult