Physical activity on prescription in accordance with the Swedish model increases physical activity: a systematic review

Br J Sports Med. 2019 Mar;53(6):383-388. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099598. Epub 2018 Nov 9.


Objectives: This study investigates the effects of the core elements of the Swedish model for physical activity on prescription (PAP) by evaluating studies that compared adults who received PAP with adults who did not receive PAP. All participants were adults identified by a healthcare professional as in need of increased physical activity. Primary outcome was level of physical activity.

Design: Systematic review. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: (1) Published 1999. (2) Systematic review, randomised controlled trial (RCT), non-RCT or case series (for adverse events). (3) ≥12 weeks' follow-up. (4) Performed in the Nordic countries. (5) Presented in English, Swedish, Norwegian or Danish.

Data sources: Systematic searches in PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, AMED, CINAHL and SweMed+ in September 2017. Included articles were evaluated using checklists to determine risk of bias.

Results: Nine relevant articles were included: seven RCTs, one cohort study and one case series. Primary outcome was reported in seven articles from six studies (five RCTs, one cohort study, 642 participants). Positive results were reported from three of the five RCTs and from the cohort study. No study reported any negative results. Swedish PAP probably results in an increased level of physical activity (GRADE⊕⊕⊕Ο).

Conclusions: Although the number of the reviewed articles was relatively modest, this systematic review shows that PAP in accordance with the Swedish model probably increases the level of physical activity. As a model for exercise prescription, Swedish PAP may be considered as part of regular healthcare to increase physical activity in patients.

Keywords: evidence-based review; exercise; health promotion; non-communicable disease; public health.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Prescriptions*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sweden