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Prev Med. 2006 Jan;42(1):40-6. Epub 2005 Nov 16.

A randomized intervention of physical activity promotion and patient self-monitoring in primary health care.

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The UKK Institute for Health Promotion Research, PO Box 30, FI-33501 Tampere, Finland.



To examine the effectiveness of prescription-based counseling and self-monitoring in the promotion of physical activity in primary health care.


The study was conducted in Finland during 2003-2004. Physicians from 24 health care units (N = 67) were randomized to a prescription or a non-prescription group. The patients (N = 265) were assigned to the groups according to their physician. Every other patient of the non-prescription physicians received a pedometer and a physical activity log (MON) and feedback about their 5-day-recordings, the rest served as controls (CON). PA was assessed prior and 2 and 6 months after the physician's appointment with a questionnaire.


The mean increase in weekly overall physical activity at 2 months was 1.0 (95% CI 0.0 to 2.0) session more in the prescription group than in controls. In at least moderate-intensity physical activity, the mean difference in changes was 0.8 (95% CI 0.1 to 1.5) sessions at 2 months and 0.9 (95% CI 0.2 to 1.5) sessions at 6 months for the favor of the prescription group. Compared to controls, self-monitoring increased the weekly duration of overall PA at 2 months on average by 217 min (95% CI 23 to 411).


Prescription can be recommended as a tool for primary health care physicians to promote physical activity. Self-monitoring with an expert feedback can be useful in increasing especially the weekly duration of overall physical activity in the short term.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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