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BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2017 Oct 30;3(1):e000290. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2017-000290. eCollection 2017.

Physiotherapy and physical activity: a cross-sectional survey exploring physical activity promotion, knowledge of physical activity guidelines and the physical activity habits of UK physiotherapists.

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Arthritis Research UK Primary Care Centre, Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences and Keele Clinical Trials Unit, David Weatherall Building, Keele University, Staffordshire, UK.
Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK.



Physical inactivity is a public health priority and embedding promotion of physical activity (PA) within healthcare systems is an important lever for change. Many factors influence PA promotion in routine healthcare practice; these include the PA habits of healthcare professionals and also their knowledge of the PA guidelines. Little is known about the extent to which PA is currently promoted in physiotherapy practice or the factors that influence it.


Following ethical approval, a cross-sectional survey of UK physiotherapists was conducted. Findings were analysed and reported in accordance with STROBE (STrengthening the Reporting of OBservational studies in Epidemiology) guidelines.


There were 522 respondents, 514 of whom were physiotherapists. Seventy-seven per cent of respondents routinely discussed PA with patients and 68% routinely delivered brief interventions. Assessment of PA status was not routine practice, neither was signposting to further sources of PA support. Only 16% of respondents correctly answered questions about the content of the PA guidelines. Only 38% of respondents met current PA recommendations. Clinicians' PA levels were not associated with PA promotion activity.


Despite the promising finding that some form of PA promotion is integrated into most respondents' practice, we report a poor understanding of brief interventions and poor knowledge of the PA guidelines. Additionally, the majority of respondents were not sufficiently active to meet current PA recommendations.


Physical Activity; Physiotherapy; Promotion

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests: AL is a Physical Activity Clinical Champion for Public Health England

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