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Can a 3-hour educational workshop and the provision of practical tools encourage family physicians to prescribe physical activity as medicine? A pre–post study
  1. Johann Windt1,2,
  2. Adriaan Windt3,
  3. Jennifer Davis2,4,
  4. Robert Petrella5,
  5. Karim Khan1,2,6
  1. 1Department of Experimental Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  2. 2Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  3. 3Department of Family Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  4. 4Department of Population & Public Health, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
  5. 5Department of Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
  6. 6Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, Doha, Qatar
  1. Correspondence to Johann Windt; johann.windt{at}


Objectives To increase, in our sample, the proportion of family physicians who provided their patients with written physical activity prescriptions after the delivery of a 3-hour educational workshop with the provision of practical tools to facilitate behaviour change.

Design A pre–post study.

Setting Abbotsford and Mission, British Columbia.

Participants All 158 physicians registered with the Abbotsford (121) or Mission (37) Divisions of Family Practice were invited to participate.

Intervention A 3-hour educational workshop combined with practical tools. Educational content of the workshop included (1) assessing patients’ physical activity levels, (2) using motivational interviewing techniques to encourage physical activity and (3) providing written physical activity prescriptions when appropriate. Practical tools to facilitate physician behaviour changes included a ‘physical activity vital sign’, and copies of the Exercise is Medicine Canada Prescription Pad. Participating physicians completed a bespoke questionnaire before and 4 weeks after their attendance at the workshop.

Outcome measures The primary outcome was the change in the proportion of family physicians who reported providing written physical activity prescriptions. Exploratory outcomes included changes in other physical activity prescription behaviours, the perceived importance of various barriers to prescription, and knowledge and confidence in regards to physical activity prescription. McNemar's test evaluated changes in proportions before and after the workshop, while Wilcoxon signed-rank tests evaluated changes in Likert data.

Results 25 family physicians completed the baseline questionnaire and attended the workshop, with 100% follow-up response rate. The proportion of family physicians who reported providing written physical activity prescriptions in their clinical practice increased significantly (p<0.05), from 10 (40%) at baseline to 17 (68%) 4 weeks after the intervention.

Conclusions Educational workshops combined with practical tools appear to be a promising method to encourage the use of written physical activity prescriptions among family physicians in this setting, over the short term.

  • Physical activity prescription
  • Family Practice
  • Exercise Prescription

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