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Physical activity through social prescribing: An interview-based study of Danish general practitioners' opinions

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Previous research suggested that regular physical activity (PA) is beneficial in both prevention and treatment of physical and mental conditions. Danish general practitioners' (GPs) have an ideal position to motivate inactive patients to increase their PA. Social prescribing (SP) enables GPs and other healthcare professionals in primary care to link patients to community-based activities of support provided by the community and the voluntary sector. This interview-based study aimed to explore viewpoints among Danish GPs regarding the advantages and disadvantages of applying SP to promote PA. The GPs were recruited through snowball sampling. Semi-structured interviews with nine Danish GPs were held via telephone or via Skype video conference. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed. Data were managed using the program NVivo 12 and analysed using the Framework Method procedure for analysis. The findings highlighted the need for tools to support GPs in providing an overview of patient-tailored options for PA in the local community. Advantages of applying SP to promote PA were related to the social aspect, the non-medical approach to a healthier lifestyle and the GPs' opportunity to signpost patients to PA in their local community. A supporting link-worker facilitating a bridge between general practice and community-based activities was identified as a pivotal component, specifically among patients with complex needs. Disadvantages of applying SP to promote PA were related to patients' expectations to general practice, stigmatising attitudes of society and lack of financial resources in patients. This study is the first to explore SP to promote PA in a Danish context. There is a need for an easy-to-use tool to support GPs in providing specific PA counselling. On this basis, SP appears as a promising tool for GPs to promote PA.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community (Print Edition)
ISSN0966-0410
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Sep 2021

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