OBJECTIVE: To assess the efficacy of physical activity promotion in primary care office settings. DESIGN: Systematic review of clinical trials in which the efficacy of physical activity promotion was investigated in a primary care office setting with at least one month of follow up. SUBJECTS: A total of 13,981 adults, aged 17-85+, were included from 203 practices in eight trials assessing physical activity promotion in primary care office settings. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated comparing the number of participants who increased their physical activity or were active at follow up in the intervention group with a control group for each study. RESULTS: Five of eight trials where positive with statistically significant results (range 0.91-6.56), but significant biases or limited clinical relevance of the outcomes were found in all trials. Short term trials of less than one year (four of four were positive), single-risk-factor trials (three of three were positive), randomised clinical trials (two of three were positive), and those assessing moderate levels of physical activity (three of four were positive) were most likely to find benefit. Only one of four trials lasting longer than a year were positive. CONCLUSION: There is limited evidence from well designed trials that office based physical activity promotion in primary care settings is efficacious in promoting changes in physical activity that could conceivably have lasting clinical benefits.
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