Challenges and opportunities for promoting physical activity in health care: a qualitative enquiry of stakeholder perspectives

Helen Speake, Robert Copeland, Jeff Breckon, Simon Till

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence suggests that physical activity (PA) programmes promoted via healthcare settings worldwide may not currently meet the needs of many patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs). This paper describes the outcomes of a qualitative enquiry into the perspectives of patients and professionals from multiple healthcare services regarding the role of PA.

Materials and Methods
19 patients and 22 HCPs were purposively recruited from physiotherapy, podiatry, chronic pain, diabetes and continence services at a community-based healthcare clinic in the United Kingdom. Participants’ views were explored using semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis.

Results identified five themes: differences between the social and medical rationales underpinning PA promotion; the impact of the patient-professional relationship on patient activation, self-management and PA; a risk culture surrounding PA; challenges to meet variation in patients’ needs and preferences; and lack of formal role for PA as a core part of routine healthcare.

The study highlights tensions between needs and aspirations, and the reality of delivering advice and support for PA. Challenges resonated with patients and HCPs across different care groups and were not condition-specific. This highlights a need for sharing good practice across healthcare services and system-level interventions to address organisational barriers to the promotion of PA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-164
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Physiotherapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2019


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