Doctors are aware of the importance of physical activity for their patients with COPD but struggle to incorporate recommendations into their clinical practice.
The findings from semi-structured interviews with 30 healthcare professionals suggest the need for more practical strategies to enhance physical activity prescription.
While time was one of the perceived barriers to addressing physical activity and exercise prescription, clinicians also felt they lacked expertise and should therefore just refer patients onto physiotherapists.
Post doctoral researcher Ms Aroub Labham, from the physiotherapy department at Austin Health, told the limbic there were missed opportunities to have discussions about physical activity.
“What we found is that although clinicians do perceive the importance of physical activity, their advice regarding physical activity or their promotion of physical activity is not prioritised in their clinical practice.”
“So they would refer to physiotherapists but not try to elaborate.”
“When we asked physiotherapists what they think about that, they said physical activity should be provided by all healthcare professionals even in the form of a brief advice in every clinical interaction.”
She said brief advice had been proven to be effective in the primary care setting and should probably be happening in tertiary hospitals as well.
Speaking at ATS 2018, Ms Labham said there was a lack of awareness of even general physical activity guidelines such as WHO recommendations for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week for over 65s.
“Clinicians were very uncertain about physical activity recommendations. They should be aware of general recommendations for physical activity that would be applicable for older adults or those with chronic diseases including COPD.”
“We need to incorporate practical strategies in guidelines and at the moment there is none that would encourage physicians to advocate physical activity to their patients.”