AN EXPLORATION OF PHYSIOTHERAPISTS ATTITUDES TOWARDS PHYSICAL ACTIVITY.
Introduction: Physical inactivity (PI) and its contribution towards non-communicable diseases (NCDs), is causing significant economic burden on the healthcare system and is a high cost to society. The benefits of physical activity (PA) to health, have been well documented. Embedding PA promotion during routine clinical contacts has been highlighted as an important lever of change, to reduce NCDs and improve individuals’ quality of life. Physiotherapists work with patients to manage long-term conditions and thus are well placed to deliver individualised PA advice and interventions. Little is known about PA promotion in physiotherapy practice in the UK. The aim of this study was to explore physiotherapists’ attitudes towards PA promotion in clinical practice and to ascertain whether knowledge of the PA guidelines of personal PA habits influence their clinical practice. Methods: A qualitative study consisting of 10 recorded telephone interviews was undertaken. A purposive sampling approach was adopted for recruitment. The data was analysed using a thematic analysis approach. Results: Eight themes and eleven sub-themes were identified. Knowledge of the PA guidelines was overall poor with only 20% of the participants answering all three components correctly. 60% of the participants met all three components of the PA guidelines. Conclusion: Physiotherapists use routine clinical contacts to discuss PA however, frequency of PA promotion was inconsistent among participants and varied across the hospital settings. Approaches to PA promotion appeared to be informal. Most participants reported their interactions with their patients was focused primarily on restoration of function, rather than prevention through health promotion. The majority of the participants didn’t attribute their own PA habits to influence their PA promotion frequency. Despite high levels of awareness of PA promotion, overall it is evident that there is scope to improve PA promotion practice to maximise physiotherapists impact on public health, particularly among healthy populations.