OBJECTIVE To summarize the literature on primary care-based intentions for
increasing physical activity and make recommendations fur future research a
nd for integrating successful strategies into practice. S
EARCH STRATEGIES We searched MEDLINE (1980 to 1998), psychological abstract
s, ERIC and HealthStar databases, the Web site for The Journal of Family Pr
actice, bibliographics of selected studies, and previous reviews for releva
nt articles. The search was limited to the English language. Three experts
in the field of physical activity were contacted for leads on unpublished t
SELECTION CRITERIA Inclusion criteria were: randomized controlled trial or
quasiex-perimental study using a comparison group. intervention delivered o
r initiated in 3 primary care setting, and reported results on at least 1 m
easure of physical activity. Studies that focused solely on patients with c
ardiovascular disease were excluded.
MAIN RESULTS Primary care-based physical activity counseling is moderately
effective in die short term, although there is considerable variability acr
oss studies. Studies in which the interventions were tailored to participan
t characteristics and which Offered written materials to patients produced
stronger results. Unlike many types of health promotion, the reach of prima
ry care-based physical activity interventions is high. Questions remain abo
ut the consistency of implementation and long-term maintenance of outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS Despite the need fur further research, enough is known to recom
mend integration of key strategies of physical activity counseling into rou
tine practice. We recommend incorporating these strategies into primary car
e and prioritizing them for further research.