Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A wake-up call for physical activity promotion in Australia: results from a survey of Australian nursing and allied health professionals

Nicole Freene A E , Sophie Cools A , Danny Hills B , Bernie Bissett A , Kate Pumpa C and Gabrielle Cooper D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Physiotherapy, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email: sophie.cools@live.com.au; bernie.bissett@canberra.edu.au

B Nursing and Midwifery, Monash University, Clayton, Vic. 3800, Australia. Email: danny.hills@monash.edu

C Sport and Exercise Science, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email: kate.pumpa@canberra.edu.au

D Pharmacy, Faculty of Health, University of Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia. Email: gabrielle.cooper@canberra.edu.au

E Corresponding author. Email: nicole.freene@canberra.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH16240
Submitted: 24 October 2016  Accepted: 9 October 2017   Published online: 11 December 2017

Abstract

Objective Nursing and allied health professionals (AHPs) are in an ideal position to promote physical activity (PA) as part of their health care provision. The aim of this study was to investigate current promotion and knowledge of PA among people in these disciplines.

Methods A cross-sectional online survey of practicing Australian physiotherapists, nurses, exercise physiologists, occupational therapists, dietitians and pharmacists was conducted in 2016.

Results A total of 433 nurses and AHPs completed the survey. All disciplines agreed that providing PA advice was part of their role, although nurses were less likely to agree. All disciplines felt they had the skills to promote PA but nurses were more likely to report a lack of time as a barrier. Physiotherapists and exercise physiologists were more confident giving PA advice to patients. Most health professionals (68%) were aware of the PA guidelines, although only 16% were accurately able to describe all relevant components. In logistic regression modelling, women and those working in public hospitals were less likely to encourage PA. Awareness of the PA guidelines doubled the odds of encouraging PA in patients (odds ratio 2.01, 95% confidence interval 1.18–3.43).

Conclusions Australian nurses and AHPs perceive that PA promotion is part of their role, however few have specific knowledge of the PA guidelines. To increase PA promotion by nurses and AHPs awareness of the PA guidelines appears to be essential.

What is known about the topic? Nurses and AHPs are in an ideal position to promote PA, although there is limited evidence of their PA promotion and knowledge.

What does the paper add? Australian nurses and AHPs are confident and think it is feasible to promote PA to patients in several healthcare settings but many lack sufficient PA knowledge, limiting their PA promotion.

What are the implications for practitioners? Increasing PA knowledge of nurses and AHPs could generate increased levels of PA in the Australian population and improve national health and wellbeing.


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