Developing physical activity counselling practices in primary care


In previous studies the Finnish Physical Activity Prescription has been proven feasible and effective in promoting physical activity in routine health care practices. However, local efforts are needed to facilitate its adoption among health care providers.


A 12-month intervention was implemented at local level

  • to increase health care providers’ knowledge about physical activity and behavioural counselling
  • to increase physical activity counselling and its documenting to patient records
  • to improve counselling practices by facilitating the uptake of Physical Activity Prescription
  • to enhance collaboration between counselling providers.


Four municipal health centres in Pirkanmaa district participated in the intervention. A multi-professional team was nominated in each health centre to take the responsibility for the 6-month development process.

The researchers supported the team with:

  • baseline and follow-up evaluation
  • one whole-staff training session
  • four goal-oriented tutor meetings
  • e-mailed tasks in-between.

In the end of the development process a meeting was held in each health centre to summarize the outcomes and to plan further actions.



Outcome evaluation is based on:

  • baseline and follow-up questionnaires
  • counselling logs completed by the health care staff
  • a questionnaire to the patients.

The main outcomes are:

  • knowledge about physical activity and behavioural counselling
  • the frequency and contents of physical activity counselling
  • the frequency of using PAP
  • the frequency of documenting physical activity counselling in the patient records.

Process evaluation is based on the meeting minutes of the responsible teams and tutor meetings. They will help to explain the underlying factors promoting or preventing change.





Erja Toropainen, Researcher



For publications (international and Finnish) of this research see the Finnish description.
To find the list of publications (Julkaisuja), scroll the page down.

More about the issue

Integrating Research into Practice to Develop Physical Activity Counseling in Finnish Health Care Centers (pdf) – Katriina Kukkonen-Harjula´s presentation at HEPA Europe 2013

Physical Activity Prescription for Adults
An online form to fill in.

Last Modified: 27.11.2014


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