Efficiency of interventions of primary health care providers in promoting physical activity in children and youth

Physical inactivity is an important risk factor for chronic diseases. Its prevalence is high in children and adolescents. It is necessary to promote acquisition of healthy habits in these age groups. The primary health care providers’ potential for physical activity promotion in children and youth is not enough understood. Objective is to review the efficiency of interventions for physical activity promotion or reduction of sedentarism in children and youth, carried out by health workers in primary health care. Data source is Medline bibliographic database. The following selection criteria were used: (a) intervention study; (b) intervention undertaken or at least started in primary care setting, by primary health care providers; (c) participants children and/or youth; and (d) primary intervention goal – to increase physical activity or decrease sedentary activities. Study characteristics and intervention- -induced changes in physical activity are presented. Eight intervention studies met the inclusion criteria. Each included counseling or additional motivational techniques. In all studies, physical activity was assessed by subjective methods (questionnaire, interview). In two studies, objective methods were additionally employed (pedometer, accelerometer). Five studies reported a significant increase in physical activity. In two studies, the increase was not significant. One study reported a significant decrease in sedentary behavior. The longest follow-up was 12 months. A small number of studies and methodological differences preclude final conclusions on efficiency. Further investigations are needed. It is encouraging that the majority of studies reported positive short-term effects that can serve as an incentive for health care providers to incorporate physical activity promotion in their everyday work.

Category: Review
Volume: Vol. 56, No 4, october - december 2012
Authors: M. Rakovac
Reference work:

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