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a active family image cbAugust 18 2017

GPs lack familiarity with current physical activity guidelines, a survey has found. Only 20% of the 1,013 GPs in England responding to the survey “were broadly or very familiar with the national PA guidelines.

 “In all, 70% of GPs were aware of the General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPPAQ), but 26% were not familiar with any physical activity assessment tools, and 55% reported that they had not undertaken any training with respect to encouraging physical activity,” said the researchers.

The study has been published in the British Journal of General Practice. The researchers considered that awareness of the GPPAQ is higher among GPs than its actual usage, “because it is used by other clinical staff, for example, as part of the NHS Health Check programme.”

They considered that “although brief advice in isolation by GPs on PA will only be a part of the behaviour change journey, it is an important prompt, especially if repeated as part of routine practice.” They called on GPs to significantly improve knowledge, skills, and confidence “to maximise the potential for PA advice in GP consultations.”

Responding to the survey, RCGP Chair Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard said: “It’s really important that GPs and our teams are aware of up to date clinical guidelines around physical activity – and the tools available to us to best implement them in the best interests of our patients – so it is clear from this research that more needs to be done by Public Health England and others to ensure these resources are readily available to GPs.

“What is also clear is that when GPs are aware of these tools – as the majority are – use of them is being stifled because of a lack of time and resources to do so effectively, particularly within the constraints of the standard 10-minute consultation, which is increasingly unfit for purpose, especially for patients with complex health needs.

The RCGP has made Physical Activity and Lifestyle a clinical priority, and is producing a toolkit of educational resources for this purpose. “We are also developing an ‘active practice’ model, to encourage GPs to talk more with patients about exercise, and work closely with local physical activity providers in the community,” she said.

Links:
R Chatterjee et al. GPs’ knowledge, use, and confidence in national physical activity and health guidelines and tools: a questionnaire-based survey of general practice in England. Br J Gen Pract. Published online 14 August 2017; bjgp17X692513  
RCGP comment                 

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