Prompting primary providers to increase community exercise referrals for older adults: A randomized trial

Ronald T. Ackermann, Richard A. Deyo, James P. LoGerfo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To determine whether a clinic-based physical activity promotion intervention can lead to more community-based exercise referrals by providers and higher exercise motivation in patients. DESIGN: Cluster randomized, controlled trial. SETTING: Seattle Veterans Affairs General Internal Medicine Clinic. PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-one physicians and nurse practitioners were randomized to a physical activity counseling intervention or control condition (counseling about tobacco cessation). Three hundred thirty-six patients aged 50 and older and visiting a study provider were enrolled. INTERVENTION: Intervention providers were trained to offer referrals to community exercise programs for patients who reported before their clinic visit that they were "contemplative" about regular exercise. MEASUREMENTS: Process measures of health behavior assessment and provider advice, exercise stage-of-change, proportion of participants reporting regular physical activity. RESULTS: At baseline, 172 intervention patients and 164 controls were similar with respect to sex, age, comorbidity score, and exercise motivation level. Forty-five percent of all intervention patients and 35% of controls reported receiving exercise advice (P = .07). Intervention patients who were contemplative about exercise were even more likely to receive exercise advice than contemplative controls (59% vs 38%; P = .02). After 4 months, 35% of all intervention patients reported regular exercise, compared with 28% of controls (P = .06). CONCLUSION: Primary providers are more likely to offer exercise advice when informed whether patients are contemplative about exercise. Patients may be more likely to start regular exercise as a result of this advice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-289
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Exercise
  • Health promotion
  • Physicians
  • Primary health care
  • Randomized controlled trial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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