A Pragmatic Application of the RE-AIM Framework for Evaluating the Implementation of Physical Activity as a Standard of Care in Health Systems

Prev Chronic Dis. 2018 May 10;15:E54. doi: 10.5888/pcd15.170344.


Introduction: Exercise is Medicine (EIM) is an initiative that seeks to integrate physical activity assessment, prescription, and patient referral as a standard in patient care. Methods to assess this integration have lagged behind its implementation.

Purpose and objectives: The purpose of this work is to provide a pragmatic framework to guide health care systems in assessing the implementation and impact of EIM.

Evaluation methods: A working group of experts from health care, public health, and implementation science convened to develop an evaluation model based on the RE-AIM (Reach, Effectiveness, Adoption, Implementation, and Maintenance) framework. The working group aimed to provide pragmatic guidance on operationalizing EIM across the different RE-AIM dimensions based on data typically available in health care settings.

Results: The Reach of EIM can be determined by the number and proportion of patients that were screened for physical inactivity, received brief counseling and/or a physical activity prescription, and were referred to physical activity resources. Effectiveness can be assessed through self-reported changes in physical activity, cardiometabolic biometric factors, incidence/burden of chronic disease, as well as health care utilization and costs. Adoption includes assessing the number and representativeness of health care settings that adopt any component of EIM, and Implementation involves assessing the extent to which health care teams implement EIM in their clinic. Finally, Maintenance involves assessing the long-term effectiveness (patient level) and sustained implementation (clinic level) of EIM in a given health care setting.

Implications for public health: The availability of a standardized, pragmatic, evaluation framework is critical in determining the impact of implementing EIM as a standard of care across health care systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Exercise*
  • Government Programs
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Standard of Care*