Physical Activity Prescription (PAP)
Physical Activity Prescription (PAP) is a tool for the physicians to initiate discussion about physical activity with the patient and to refer the patient to other health or exercise professional for more detailed action-planning and follow-up.
A national Physical Activity Prescription program was implemented in Finland in 2001–2004. The aim was to increase physical activity counselling among physicians especially in primary care. The program was implemented in collaboration with two research organisations, two patient associations, Finnish Medical Association and a government funded PA program. The program included material development, training of physicians and dissemination of information about PA counselling to health and exercise professionals and stakeholders. (1)
PAP was developed during the national program. It was a tool for the physicians to initiate discussion about physical activity with the patient and to refer the patient to other health or exercise professional for more detailed action-planning and follow-up. PAP was based on the principles of 5A’s, which has been recommended as a clinical practice guideline for brief behaviour change counselling. In a randomized trial conducted in 24 primary care units in Finland PAP was shown effective in increasing moderate-intensity physical activity of insufficiently physically active patients by approximately one weekly session at two and six months’ time interval (2).
PAP has now been accepted to the national health record system and has been coded accordingly. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has also advocated the use of PAP in the national strategy for health enhancing physical activity (3).
(1) Aittasalo M, Miilunpalo S, Ståhl T, Kukkonen-Harjula K. From innovation to practice: initiation, implementation and evaluation of a national physician-based physical activity promotion programme. Health Promot Int 2007;22:19-27.
(2) Aittasalo M, Miilunpalo S, Kukkonen-Harjula K, Pasanen M. A randomized intervention of physical activity promotion and patient self-monitoring in primary health care. Prev Med 2006;42:40-6.
(3) On the move – national strategy for physical activity promoting health and wellbeing 2020. Publications of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 2013:10. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-00-3412-2