Nurse practitioner and physician assistant physical activity counseling knowledge, confidence and practices

Prev Med. 2012 May;54(5):306-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 Feb 11.


Objective: This exploratory cross-sectional study examined nurse practitioners' (NPs) and physician assistants' (PAs) perceptions about their physical activity counseling practices.

Method: Participants were currently practicing NPs (n=240) and PAs (n=78) primarily in Arizona, USA during 2010. Participants completed a modified version of the Promotion of Physical Activity by Nurse Practitioners Questionnaire either online or in person during a practitioner specific conference. Mann-Whitney U tests and Chi-Square analyses examined differences between NPs and PAs.

Results: NP respondents were older (48 vs. 40 yrs, p<0.001) and more likely to be female (94% vs. 76%; p<0.001) compared to PAs. The majority of respondents (NPs:75%; PAs:64%; p<0.07) reported routinely counseling patients about physical activity. There were no differences in perceived knowledge (p=0.10) or confidence (p=0.75) to provide physical activity counseling between NPs and PAs. Approximately half of all respondents reported receiving training to provide physical activity counseling as part of their educational preparation to become a health practitioner (p=0.18).

Conclusion: Study results indicate that NPs and PAs are knowledgeable, confident and currently providing some level of physical activity counseling to patients. However, the majority of respondents are interested in receiving additional training to aid in providing physical activity counseling.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arizona
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Clinical Competence
  • Counseling / standards
  • Counseling / supply & distribution*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nurse Practitioners / education
  • Nurse Practitioners / psychology*
  • Nurse Practitioners / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Physician Assistants / education
  • Physician Assistants / psychology*
  • Physician Assistants / statistics & numerical data
  • Process Assessment, Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires