OBJECTIVE: To investigate what factors may influence practice nurses to promote physical activity. METHODS: Postal questionnaires were sent to all practice nurses in the county of Avon, UK in 1994. Specifically, the questionnaire survey explored whether patient, provider, and practice factors influenced practice nurses promotion behaviour. In addition, the stages of change model was used to measure current levels of promoting behaviour. RESULTS: A response rate of 80.9% was achieved. Over 80% of the sample reported currently promoting physical activity to some degree. "Promoting" nurses more frequently followed up all (new, established or targeted) patients' activity progress when compared with "restricted promoting" nurses (P < 0.05). Nurses who engaged in regular exercise were more likely to encourage physical activity as a treatment than "irregularly active" nurses (P < 0.05) for five of six clinical groups with the single exception of people with diabetes. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that the two stage measures (activity promotion and personal behaviour) of the health care professional are associated with important differences in patient and practice factors for physical activity promotion. Further investigations into the content and quality of delivery are required before planning strategies to develop physical activity in the general practice.
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