Physical activity promotion in primary health care: results from a German physician survey

Eur J Gen Pract. 2012 Jun;18(2):86-91. doi: 10.3109/13814788.2012.675504. Epub 2012 May 1.


Background: Primary care physicians are positioned to play an important role in changing physical activity and other health behaviour of their patients. However, little is known about the practice of physical activity promotion in German primary care settings and the factors associated with physical activity promotion.

Methods: 260 randomly selected physicians from the State Medical Association of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, took part in this survey (response rate: 13.3%) and provided data on physical activity promotion (physical activity assessment and advice), attitudes towards health promotion and cooperation activities. Factors associated with physical activity promotion were identified using logistic regression.

Results: The physicians who replied had positive attitudes towards health promotion. However, 26.9% reported they had inadequate knowledge to provide counselling and 36.7% felt they were unsuccessful in motivating their patients to increase physical activity. Physical activity assessment and advice occurred in 54.9% of the physicians. Compared to their counterparts, physicians in large cities (odds ratio (OR) 3.93; and 95% confidence interval (95%CI): 1.55-9.99), those convinced to offer their patients a great deal in the way of lifestyle counselling (OR 1.92; 95%CI: 1.09-3.40) and those cooperating with sports clubs (OR 1.75; 95%CI: 1.03-2.96) were more likely to provide physical activity promotion.

Conclusion: There is a need for interventions to increase the frequency of physical activity promotion by primary care physicians. In particular physicians in rural regions should be assisted and cooperation activities with sports clubs or other health care providers should be encouraged.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Female
  • Germany
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Urban Health Services / statistics & numerical data