Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 38, Issue 9, September 2009

How do rural GPs manage their inactive and overweight patients? A pilot study of rural GPs in Queensland

Diann Eley Robert M Eley
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Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for chronic disease. Physical activity plays an important role in increasing wellbeing and reducing weight. General practitioners’ advice and intervention can help patients increase their physical activity. This pilot study is part of a larger study investigating physical activity opportunities in rural Queensland.
Behavioural factors are globally acknowledged as the biggest barriers to exercise. The GPs surveyed recognise that, for most people, external support is essential for ongoing exercise compliance and motivation. This can be in the form of discussion with, and advice from, the GP, or referral to gyms or other services. Respondents identified limited facilities and support in rural areas as barriers. Formalisation of referral pathways and follow up is currently lacking and could assist rural GPs in helping their patients to exercise and lose weight.
A total of 67.5% of practices responded. The primary strategy GP respondents used to address overweight was discussion and advice. Fifteen of the 27 respondents referred patients to allied health professionals and local sport/recreation organisations. Lack of physical and human resources to encourage and support weight loss was the main perceived barrier to helping patients achieve physical activity and weight loss goals.

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