The Evidence in Support of Physicians and Health Care Providers as Physical Activity Role Models
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The Evidence in Support of Physicians and Health Care Providers as Physical Activity Role Models

Filetype[PDF-751.21 KB]

  • English

  • Details:

    • Alternative Title:
      Am J Lifestyle Med
    • Description:
      Physical inactivity constitutes the fourth leading cause of death worldwide. Health care providers (HCPs) should play a key role in counseling and appropriately referring their patients to adopt physical activity (PA). Previous reports suggest that active HCPs are more likely to provide better, more credible, and motivating preventive counseling to their patients. This review summarizes the available evidence on the association between HCPs' personal PA habits and their related PA counseling practices. Based on relevant studies, a snowball search strategy identified, out of 196 studies screened, a total of 47 pertinent articles published between 1979 and 2012. Of those, 23 described HCPs' PA habits and/or their counseling practices and 24 analytic studies evaluated the association between HCPs' personal PA habits and their PA counseling practices. The majority of studies came from the United States (n = 33), and 9 studies included nonphysicians (nurses, pharmacists, and other HCPs). PA levels were mostly self-reported, and counseling was typically assessed as self-reported frequency or perceived self-efficacy in clinical practice. Most (19 out of 24) analytic studies reported a significant positive association between HCPs' PA habits and counseling frequency, with odds ratios ranging between 1.4 and 5.7 (P < .05), in 6 studies allowing direct comparison. This review found consistent evidence supporting the notion that physically active physicians and other HCPs are more likely to provide PA counseling to their patients and can indeed become powerful PA role models. This evidence appears sufficient to justify randomized trials to determine if adding interventions to promote PA among HCPs, also results in improvements in the frequency and quality of PA preventive counseling and referrals, delivered by HCPs, to patients in primary care settings. Future studies should also aim at objectively quantifying the effect of HCPs' PA role-modeling and how it influences patients' PA levels. More evidence from low-to-middle income countries is needed, where 80% of the deaths due to inactivity and related noncommunicable diseases already occur.
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