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The Victorian Active Script Programme: promising signs for general practitioners, population health, and the promotion of physical activity
  1. J Sims1,
  2. N Huang2,
  3. J Pietsch3,
  4. L Naccarella4
  1. 1Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2VicFit, Melbourne, Australia
  3. 3Whitehorse Council, Box Hill, Australia
  4. 4Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Sims
 Department of General Practice, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria 3053, Australia; j.simsunimelb.edu.au

Abstract

Background: The Active Script Programme (ASP) aimed to increase the number of general practitioners (GPs) in Victoria, Australia who deliver appropriate, consistent, and effective advice on physical activity to patients. To maximise GP participation, a capacity building strategy within Divisions of General Practice (DGPs) was used. The objectives of the programme were to (a) train and support GPs in advising sedentary patients, and (b) develop tools and resources to assist GPs.

Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of the ASP.

Methods: A systems approach was used to promote capacity in Victorian general practice. Economic analyses were incorporated into the programme’s evaluation. Participants were selected DGPs and their GP members. The programme worked with DGPs to train GPs and provide relevant resources. The main outcome measures were (a) changes in GP knowledge and behaviour and (b) cost effectiveness, based on modelled estimates of numbers of patients advised and adopting physical activity and gaining the associated health benefits.

Results: GP awareness and provision of physical activity advice increased. Although the programme’s reach was modest, based on actual GP involvement, the cost effectiveness figures ($138 per patient to become sufficiently active to gain health benefits, and $3647 per disability adjusted life year saved) are persuasive.

Conclusions: The ASP increased DGPs’ capacity to support GPs to promote physical activity. There is a strong economic argument for governments to invest in such programmes. However, caution is warranted about the maintenance of patients’ activity levels. Programme refinement to encourage GPs to use community supports more effectively will guide future development. Further research on long term patient adherence through a multisectorial approach is warranted.

  • physical activity
  • exercise
  • general practitioners
  • population health
  • ASP, Active Script Programme
  • DALY, disability adjusted life years
  • DGP, Division of General Practice
  • GP, general practitioner
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  • Publisher Correction

    Please note that the author list order is incorrect. The author list is shown here:

    Huang N, Pietsch J, Naccarella L, Sims J

    The error is much regretted.

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        BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine