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General practitioners’ attitude to sport and exercise medicine services: a questionnaire-based survey


Aim Sport and exercise medicine (SEM) aims to manage sporting injuries and promote physical activity. This study explores general practitioners’ (GPs) awareness, understanding and utilisation of their local SEM services.

Design A questionnaire survey, including patient case scenarios, was administered between February and May 2011.

Participants and setting 693 GPs working in Cardiff and Vale, Leicester and Tower Hamlets were invited to participate.

Results 244 GPs responded to the questionnaire (35.2% response rate). Less than half (46%; 112/244) were aware of their nearest SEM service and only 38% (92/244) had a clear understanding on referral indications. The majority (82%; 199/244) felt confident advising less active patients about exercise. There were divergent management opinions about the case scenarios of patients who were SEM referral candidates. Overall, GPs were significantly more likely to refer younger patients and patients with sport-related problems rather than patients who would benefit from increasing their activity levels in order to prevent or manage chronic conditions (p<0.01). GPs with previous SEM training were significantly more likely to refer (p<0.01). The majority (62%; 151/244) had never referred patients to their local SEM clinics but of those who had 75% (70/93) rated the service as good.

Conclusions There is a lack of awareness and understanding among GPs on the role of SEM within the National Health Service which may be resulting in suboptimal utilisation especially for patients who could benefit from increasing their activity levels.

  • EDUCATION & TRAINING (see Medical Education & Training)

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