UK Doctors Delivering Physical Activity Advice: What Are the Challenges and Possible Solutions? A Qualitative Study

Dane Vishnubala, Adil Iqbal, Katherine Marino, Steven Whatmough, Ruth Barker, David Salman, Peter Bazira, Gabrielle Finn, Andy Pringle, Camilla Nykjaer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite strategies to enable Health Care Professionals (HCPs) to give physical activity (PA) advice to patients, this appears to be rarely done in consultations. The aims of the present study were to gain an understanding of doctors’ awareness of current PA guidelines and to explore their opinions on barriers and solutions. A qualitative approach using semi-structured interviews was adopted. This study included 15 doctors currently working in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). A thematic analysis approach was used to analyse the transcripts. Four themes and twelve sub-themes were deciphered. Intrinsic factors limiting the delivery of PA advice included a lack of knowledge of PA guidelines and PA being an afterthought. Barriers to delivering PA guidance included a lack of PA education, time pressures, and patient engagement. Solutions included staff training, incorporating PA into undergraduate training, and encouraging staff to be physically active. Methods to optimise PA guidance included individualised PA advice, local exercise services and schemes, utilising online and visual resources, and motivational interviewing. This study provides an updated insight into doctors’ opinions on barriers and solutions to discussing PA with patients. It is clear that further work is needed to ensure greater awareness of PA guidelines amongst clinicians.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12030
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number19
Early online date23 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2022


  • adults
  • medical education
  • physical activity


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