Delivering brief physical activity interventions in primary care: A systematic review of the prevalence, and factors associated with delivery, receipt, and patient receptivity

Louise H. Hall (Lead Author), Rachael Thorneloe (Lead Author), Rocio Rodriguez-Lopez, Adam Grice, Mangesh A. Thorat, Katherine Bradbury, Meghana Wadnerkar Kamble, Grace N. Okoli, Daniel Powell, Rebecca J. Beeken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: Physical activity (PA) brief interventions (BIs) involving screening and/or advice are recommended in primary care but frequency of delivery is unknown. AIM: To examine the extent to which PA BIs are delivered in primary care, and explore factors associated with delivery, receipt, and patient receptivity. DESIGN AND SETTING: A mixed-methods systematic review of studies conducted worldwide, with a narrative synthesis of results. METHOD: CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, and APA PsycINFO index databases were searched for qualitative and quantitative studies, dating from January 2012 to June 2020, that reported the level of delivery and/or receipt of PA BIs in primary care, and/or factors affecting delivery, receipt, and patient receptivity. Quality was assessed using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool. Attitudes towards and barriers to delivery were coded into the Theoretical Domains Framework and the Capability, Opportunity, and Motivation Behaviour model. RESULTS: After screening a total of 13 066 records, 66 articles were included in the review. The extent of PA screening and advice in primary care varied widely (2.4%-100% and 0.6%-100%, respectively). PA advice was delivered more often to patients with a higher body mass index, lower PA levels, and/or more comorbidities. Barriers - including a lack of time and training/guidelines - remain, despite recommendations from the World Health Organization and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence that PA advice should be provided in primary care. Few studies explored patients' receptivity to advice. CONCLUSION: PA BIs are not delivered frequently or consistently in primary care. Addressing barriers to delivery through system-level changes and training programmes could improve and increase the advice given. Understanding when patients are receptive to PA interventions could enhance health professionals' confidence in their delivery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e209-e216
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Issue number716
Early online date20 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • Primary care
  • Physical activity
  • Brief interventions
  • Health promotion
  • Disease prevention
  • Systematic review
  • disease prevention
  • brief interventions
  • primary care
  • health promotion
  • systematic review
  • physical activity

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