Does primary care referral to an exercise programme increase physical activity one year later? A randomized controlled trial.J Public Health (Oxf). 2005 Mar; 27(1):25-32.JP
To assess the effectiveness of a primary care referral scheme on increasing physical activity at 1 year from referral. Design Two-group randomized controlled trial recruiting primary care referrals to a borough-based exercise scheme. Setting A local authority borough in the north-west of England. Participants 545 patients defined as sedentary by a primary care practitioner. Intervention Referral to a local-authority exercise referral scheme and written information compared with written information only. Main outcome measures Meeting physical activity target at 12 months following referral, with a secondary outcome measured at 6 months from referral.
At 12 months, a non-significant increase of 5 per cent was observed in the intervention compared with control group, for participation in at least 90 minutes of moderate/vigorous activity per week (25.8 versus 20.4 per cent, OR 1.45, 0.84 to 2.50, p = 0.18). At 6 months, a 10 per cent treatment effect was observed which was significant (22.6 versus 13.6 per cent, OR 1.67, 1.08 to 2.60, p = 0.05). The intervention increased satisfaction with information but this did not influence adherence with physical activity.
Community-based physical activity referral schemes have some impact on reducing sedentary behaviour in the short-term, but which is unlikely to be sustained and lead to benefits in terms of health.