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ORIGINAL ARTICLE  EPIDEMIOLOGY AND CLINICAL MEDICINE 

The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2019 July;59(7):1244-52

DOI: 10.23736/S0022-4707.18.09005-9

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English

The provision of simple written material does not significantly improve physical activity rates in a population with musculoskeletal problems: a double-blinded randomised controlled trial

Patrick C. WHEELER 1, 2, 3

1 University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester, UK; 2 School for Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK; 3 National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, East Midlands (NCSEM-EM), Loughborough, UK



BACKGROUND: Physical activity has been shown to have significant health benefits to individuals, being effective in the treatment and prevention of multiple different conditions. However, despite these benefits, rates of physical activity remain low in the western world and less than 40% of people in the UK meet physical activity recommendations. Musculoskeletal pain can be a barrier to activity, and patients with pain can stop all activity out of fear of harm. This project seeks to see if simple written advice can influence activity rates and behaviors.
METHODS: A double-blinded randomized controlled trial was conducted to assess any impact of simple written material on physical activity rates in patients attending a single UK National Health Service (NHS) Sports Medicine Department. 546 consecutive patients with a range of musculoskeletal problems were randomised to either an “intervention group” (N.=235) or “control group” (N.=311). Patients in the intervention group received simple written material encouraging of the benefits of physical activity for general aspects of health, including practical steps to increase regular activity in daily life such as commuting, and work.
RESULTS: No significant difference in activity rates were seen between the members of the two groups in any of the outcome measures used. These measures included the short-form/7-day recall version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, the General Practitioner Physical Activity Questionnaire, and the “Vital Signs” questions. There were no differences seen in transport choices. Overall physical activity levels were low among both groups, with only one-third reaching national targets of 150 minutes of moderate-level physical activity per week, and one in five patients undertaking no regular physical activity.
CONCLUSIONS: The provision of simple written material does not significantly improve physical activity rates in patients referred to this NHS Sports Medicine Clinic in the UK. Consideration must be given to more tailored and individualized approached to physical activity promotion.


KEY WORDS: Exercise; Patient education handout; Outcome assessment (health care)

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