Physical activity recommendations from general practitioners in Australia. Results from a national survey

Aust N Z J Public Health. 2016 Feb;40(1):83-90. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12455. Epub 2015 Oct 11.


Objective: To identify subgroups of Australian adults likely to receive physical activity advice from their general practitioner and to evaluate the content of the advice provided.

Methods: Participants (n=1,799), recruited from the Australian Health and Social Science panel, completed an online survey. Signal Detection Analysis was used to identify subgroups that were more/less likely to have received physical activity recommendations.

Results: Overall, 18% of participants received a physical activity recommendation from their general practitioner in the past 12 months and eight unique subgroups were identified. The subgroup with the highest proportion (54%) of participants reporting that they received a physical activity recommendation was those with poor physical and mental health-related quality of life and an average daily sitting time of <11 hours. Other subgroups with high proportions of individuals receiving recommendations were characterised by higher weight and/or the presence of co-morbidities. The most commonly prescribed physical activity type was aerobic activity. Few participants received specific physical activity advice.

Conclusions: General practitioners are incorporating physical activity promotion into their practice, but primarily as a disease management tool and with limited specificity.

Implications: Strategies to assist Australian general practitioners to effectively promote physical activity are needed.

Keywords: general practitioners; intervention; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Directive Counseling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • General Practitioners* / psychology
  • General Practitioners* / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Promotion / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult