Trends and disparities in the prevalence of physicians' counseling on exercise among the U.S. adult population, 2000-2010

Prev Med. 2017 Jun;99:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2017.01.015. Epub 2017 Feb 2.


Recognizing the undisputed health benefits of exercise, physicians' counseling has been included in the Healthy People Objectives since 2000. To address the paucity of data on such counseling at the national level, we examined changing trends and disparities in receiving physicians' counseling on exercise among the physically-able, non-institutionalized U.S. adult population. Data from the 2000, 2005, and 2010 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) were examined using logistic regression that included race/ethnicity, age, gender, education, insurance status, number of physician visits in the past year, and body mass index. In 2000, only 22.9% of NIHS respondents had received counseling on exercise, increasing to 33.6% in 2010. Compared with non-Hispanic Whites, non-Hispanic Blacks were 27% less likely to receive exercise advice in 2000 (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.73, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.61-0.87). In later years, they were equally likely to receive advice. Although decreased over the years, male respondents were significantly (34% to 23%) less likely to report receipt of exercise counseling than female patients (in 2010: AOR 0.77, CI 0.72-0.83). Uninsured respondents were 35% less likely to report receiving exercise advice from their provider in all study years (2010: AOR 0.64, CI 0.59-0.72). Patients with increasing levels of education were increasingly more likely to report receipt of counseling in each successive survey year. The overall prevalence of physicians' counseling on exercise increased moderately between 2000 and 2010. Some disparities narrowed and even reversed but significant disparities continue to exist across gender, insurance status, and education level.

Keywords: Body mass index; Disparities; Exercise; Exercise promotion; Insurance coverage; Physicians' counseling; Racial and ethnic minorities; Trends.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Counseling* / statistics & numerical data
  • Counseling* / trends
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities / statistics & numerical data
  • Healthcare Disparities / trends*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians* / statistics & numerical data
  • Physicians* / trends
  • Prevalence
  • United States