GPs’ perspectives regarding their sedentary behaviour and physical activity: a qualitative interview study

Richard S. Mayne, Nigel D. Hart, Mark Tully, Jason Wilson, Neil Heron

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Abstract

Background
General practice is a highly sedentary occupation, with many general practitioners (GPs) spending over 10.5 hours sitting each workday. This excessive sedentary behaviour and lack of physical activity (PA) is potentially detrimental to the health of GPs, as well as their ability to counsel patients regarding sedentary behaviour and PA. There is a lack of prior research examining the perspectives of GPs regarding their sedentary behaviour and PA.

Aim
To explore GPs’ perspectives regarding their sedentary behaviour and PA.

Design and Setting
A qualitative interview study of GPs in Northern Ireland.

Method
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of 13 GPs who had previously taken part in a study to objectively measure their levels of sedentary behaviour and PA. Interview transcripts were analysed using deductive thematic analysis. The theoretical domains framework (TDF) was used to facilitate identification of barriers and enablers affecting the ability of GPs to increase their PA.

Results
Key themes were categorised within six theoretical domains (environmental context and resources, social professional role and identity, goals, social influences, knowledge, and intentions) with sub-themes within each domain.

Conclusion
Most GPs are unhappy with their current levels of sedentary behaviour and PA and are concerned with how this is affecting their health. We identified numerous barriers and facilitators affecting the ability of GPs to increase their PA, including working environment, personal and professional responsibilities, among others. Addressing these could improve the health of GPs and their ability to counsel patients regarding sedentary behaviour and PA.

How this fits in
Excessive sedentary behaviour and insufficient physical activity is associated with many adverse health outcomes and increased all-cause mortality, yet little previous research has examined sedentary behaviour and physical activity among GPs. This study reveals that most GPs are unhappy with their current levels of sedentary behaviour and physical activity and are concerned with how this is affecting their health. We identified numerous barriers and facilitators affecting the ability of GPs to increase their physical activity, which should be addressed in order to improve the health of GPs and their ability to counsel patients regarding their physical activity.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberBJGPO.2022.0008
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice Open (BJGP Open)
Early online date10 Mar 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • sedentary behaviour
  • physical activity
  • general practitioner
  • GP
  • primary care
  • qualitative research methodology

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